Washington: Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman completed her five-day visit to the United States. It is claimed to be a very successful visit. At a time, when the discussions about whether the United States will impose sanctions against India due to the defence equipment purchased from Russia, this visit is claimed to have strengthened the India-US military ties. Although there is no official announcement after the visit, this visit of the Indian Defence Minister is said to have laid the foundation for the vital cooperation and agreements of the future.
After a bilateral discussion with the US Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, Defence Minister Sitharaman proceeded to visit the Hawaii Islands. The Headquarters of the Indo-Pacific command of the US Navy is located here. Therefore, the visit of the Indian Defence Minister here has gained a lot of symbolic significance. Only a few months ago, the name of the Pacific command of the US Navy was changed to Indo-Pacific command. This renaming of the command underlines the strategic importance attached to India by the United States. This makes Defence Minister Sitharaman’s visit to the Indo-Pacific command all the more important.
There was a detailed discussion regarding the issues in the region, during the Defence Minister’s visit to the Indo-Pacific command. It is also said that Afghanistan and Pakistan also were a part of the discussions. Defence Minister Sitharaman also discussed the political upheavals in Sri Lanka and the Maldives with the chief of the Indo-Pacific command. China is frantically trying to increase its influence in these four countries. The Chinese domination of Pakistan is a matter of concern not only for the countries in the South Asian region but also for the United States. The Chinese interference in the Maldives and Sri Lanka attempting to bring its agent in power, created instability in the region.
Against this background, the cooperation between India and the United States in the defence sector becomes very important. The visit of Defence Minister Sitharaman gives a clear message that the United States is fully prepared to support India for its defence preparedness. Trump administration is keen on cooperating with India. As per sources, the Trump administration has assured India that the Indian cooperation with other countries will not affect the cooperation between India and the United States. It may be noteworthy that this is the third round of discussions between Indian and the United States in the last few days.