By Arul Louis
New York, Feb 1 (IANS): India's National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and US Deputy Defence Secretary Kathleen Hicks discussed strengthening coordination between the militaries of the two countries in the face of the threat from China.
US Defence Department spokesperson Eric Pahon said after the meeting in Washington on Tuesday that they "discussed avenues to deepen coordination between the US and Indian militaries to address the region's increasingly contested strategic environment".
Pahon's readout of the meeting diplomatically avoided directly mentioning China, but it is Beijing through recent border conflicts with India and threats in the Indo-Pacific region to US ally Taiwan and to other nations in the South China Sea with maritime and island claims that has heightened strategic tensions.
He said that Hicks "thanked NSA Doval for India's leadership in the region".
Hicks, he added, "reiterated that building alliances and partnerships are a top priority for the department, and integral to the ongoing implementation of the US National Defense Strategy".
The two also discussed increasing defence industrial cooperation through "innovative joint endeavours between US and Indian firms that support India's unique operational requirements", Pahon said.
Separately at a meeting of the India-US initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) led by Doval and US NSA Jake Sullivan, Washington committed to expeditiously review a GE proposal to jointly produce jet engines for power jet aircraft manufactured indigenously by India, according to the White House.
At the meeting they decided to develop a new bilateral Defense Industrial Cooperation Roadmap to accelerate the exploration of joint development and production projects related to jet engines and munitions technologies, the White House said.
Another initiative from the iCET meeting was on long-term cooperation focused on maritime security and intelligence surveillance reconnaissance.
Doval's meeting with Hicks took place on the same day the foreign office consultations of the two countries were held in New Delhi.
Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra and the US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland co-chaired the meeting at which they reviewed the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and discussed the situation in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia, according to the ministry.