India is one of America’s “closest strategic partners” and the relationship between the two countries is a “stronghold” of a free and open Indo-Pacific, Chief of US Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday said on Friday, announcing his travel to India next week to reaffirm the growing level of naval cooperation between the two nations.
During his five-day India visit from October 11-15, Gilday will meet Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh among others.
“This visit is a great opportunity for me to meet with my counterpart in India and discuss areas for continued mutual cooperation. No doubt, there are many areas where we can partner and collaborate,” he said.
“Make no mistake, India is one of our closest strategic partners, and our relationship is a stronghold of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Gilday said, as the Pentagon announced his travel to India next week.
There is no better signal of the US Navy’s desire to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific than operating in the region, according to a press release issued by the Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs.
“I am grateful for our navies’ continued cooperation in the Indo-Pacific to create an inclusive, free and open rules-based order,” said Gilday. “And by continuing to work closely with the Indian Navy, we will increase our inter-operability for decades to come as well as maintain security, stability, and prosperity,” he said.
China has been fast expanding military and economic influence in the Indo-Pacific region, triggering concern in various countries of the region and beyond. China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. Both areas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources and are vital to global trade.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the area.
Gilday’s visit will also underscore the growing strength of the US-India Defence partnership as the two countries work in concert with like-minded partners to promote shared goals. The United States designated India as a Major Defence Partner in 2016, the press release said.