indica News Bureau-
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper considers China and Russia as top two challenges for Pentagon in coming years, while India as a strategic partner.
He said, “There is an alignment of America’s strategic interest with India.”
Esper on Friday, during his appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) think-tank, said, “Next week in Washington DC, the United States will host the second ever India two-plus-two ministerial, where we will continue to advance our growing partnership as our strategic interests align”, reported NDTV.
The statement comes just before a bilateral meeting between India and US at the Pentagon on December 18. Esper will host India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. Following this, he and Singh will drive down to the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department to join External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the second India US 2+2 ministerial.
“As you could see, our resolve to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific is deep-rooted and is only growing stronger in the face of efforts to undermine it,” Esper said.
The two countries are department’s top priorities as they are busy modernizing their armed forces technologies. “We have entered a new era of great power competition. China first and Russia second are now the department’s top priorities. Both nations are rapidly modernizing their armed forces and expanding their capabilities into the space and cyber domains,” the Pentagon leader said.
Adding, “Emboldened by the growing strength of the militaries, Beijing and Moscow are not only violating the sovereignty of smaller states, but they are also attempting to undermine international laws and norms to advantage themselves at the expense of others.”
Esper also pointed out that China was expanding its economic ties across Asia, Europe and Africa with a less-publicized objective of expanding the People’s Liberation Army”s (PLA) influence and reach through its Belt and Road initiative and said that Russia’s annexation of Crimea and incursion into Ukraine were evidence of its blatant disregard for state sovereignty and its intent to undermine NATO’s cohesion.