Top US admiral in New Delhi to strengthen US-India military ties, discuss countering China

Times of India

TNN, Sep 9, 2010

NEW DELHI: With a top US military general in town, India and US are likely to discuss China’s rapidly expanding military capabilities and its implications for the Asia-Pacific region, among other regional security issues.  The visit of Pacific Command chief Admiral Robert F Willard, who commands all US forces in the Asia-Pacific region, comes at a time when the diplomatic ties between India and China have taken a hit with Beijing denying a visa to Northern Army Command chief Lt-General B S Jaswal as well as describing Jammu and Kashmir as “India-controlled Kashmir”.

Admiral Willard is slated to hold talks with national security adviser Shivshankar Menon, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and defence secretary Pradeep Kumar as well as the three Service chiefs, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, Admiral Nirmal Verma and General V K Singh.  Incidentally, Admiral Willard’s visit also comes soon after the latest Pentagon report on the military capabilities of China, which held the 2.25-million strong People’s Liberation Army has moved “more advanced and survivable” solid-fuelled CSS-5 nuclear-capable ballistic missiles closer to the borders with India “to improve regional deterrence”. China is also developing contingency plans to move airborne troops into the region.

Even as India watches with increasing concern the expanding Chinese strategic footprint in the Indian Ocean Region as well as South Asia, Defence Minister A K Antony is slated to visit Washington towards the end of this month.

The US, on its part, has been pushing India to swiftly ink three bilateral military pacts — Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation ( BECA) — for quite some time now. India, however, remains unconvinced about the benefits of the three pacts.

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