The US requires India standing by its side for the success of its strategy of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, a top American diplomat said Monday noting that the Quad concept has helped New Delhi find a place in the larger Indo-Pacific theatre.
The new Indo-Pacific strategy, which reflects the realities of the modern world, is focused around democracies, free markets and the values that India and its people share with the US and its people, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said in his remarks at the US-India Strategic Forum during the third India US Leadership Summit.
The summit was organised by the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum. “In order to make that successful we have to tap into the full scale of the region. That includes the scale of economics, the scale of security cooperation, and that's impossible to do without India as a centerpiece of the strategy," Biegun said.
"So, as important as I'd like to think the United States is to this strategy, it's not going to be successful for us without India also standing side by side,” Biegun said. Observing that India has shown tremendous leadership and interest in contributing to the Indo-Pacific strategy that the US is advancing, the diplomat said New Delhi and Washington have deepened their security cooperation. The two countries are in the process of seeking an even broader economic relationship, including through some dimensions of trade liberalization, he said.
They are also working very closely in the security sphere, with India clearly indicating recently an intention to invite Australia to participate in the Malabar naval exercises, which will be a tremendous step forward in ensuring the freedom of passage and the security of the seas in the Indo-Pacific, he added. “So, in many ways, across multiple dimensions, the US-India relationship is contributing to this, but also you see it in the personal interactions between Indian leaders and American leaders.
"Those relationships have formed across different ideological foundations and different political parties over many, many years. When you see our leaders together, you can tell that the wind is blowing in this direction in both countries, and that really will make us that much more successful with our strategies,” Biegun said. Responding to a question, the top American diplomat said "the QUAD representing United States, India, Australia and Japan is a combination of democracies and also illuminates those four parties' sense of responsibility and willingness to uphold the responsibilities, to extend the benefits of democracy, extend the benefits of economic development, and extend the benefits of security throughout the region".
“All four of us, of course, are Pacific powers,” he said. As India has grown and its interests have grown, New Delhi recognizes that it cannot be a passive player in how that develops throughout the Indo-Pacific, he added.
“So it's a real coincidence of a variety of factors that are underpinned by that historic shared value of democracy that I think is really what illustrates the Quad. The Quad isn't exclusive. I think there's plenty of reason to bring other countries into this discussion as well,” he said. According to Biegun, there is going to be a ministerial meeting with the Quad this fall in Delhi.
“Quad concept has really helped India find a place in the Indo-Pacific – in the larger Indo-Pacific theatre. It's also obviously indeed in our interest to have India as a partner in these issues,” the US diplomat said.