US’ relationship with India of utmost importance: Gen Mattis

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Washington: India’s ‘Act East’ policy allows it to play a greater role in contributing to security in the Asia-Pacific region, Defense Secretary nominee of the incoming Trump Administration Gen (retd) James Mattis said on January 12.

“The US policy should continue to pursue a long-term strategic relationship with India based in convergence of our interests and our shared democratic values,” Mattis told lawmakers in a written submission to the Senate Armed Services Committee ahead of his confirmation hearing.

In his written answers to the questions submitted by members of the Committee, Mattis noted that the US and India recently cemented India’s status as a Major Defense Partner.

“If confirmed, I would assess what particular areas in the bilateral security relationship I should focus, and what steps can be taken to bolster the overall defense relationship,” said 66-year-old Mattis, who retired in 2013 after serving as commander of US Central Command.

“In my view, and particularly on security and defense issues, the US-India relationship has been strengthened in recent years,” he said.

Mattis said cooperation on defense and trade and technology has grown to the benefit of both countries under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative.

India is the world’s largest democracy and “our relationship with it is of utmost importance,” he said.

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