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Posted at: Mar 5, 2016, 1:29 AM; last updated: Mar 5, 2016, 3:30 PM (IST)

No joint sea patrol with US against China, says India

Avoiding choppy waters

  • Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday rejected US Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris’ idea of patrolling South China Sea jointly, saying India had never taken part in any joint patrol
  • Parrikar’s opinion is in line with New Delhi’s policy of keeping away from any such grouping that may anger China, which is locked in a territorial dispute with six nations

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 4

Two days after a top Admiral from the US invited India to join a four-nation grouping to patrol areas like the South China Sea, New Delhi has out rightly rejected the idea saying it has so far not considered it.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, on being asked about the statement by US Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris, said: “Our view point will come, if at all we consider it. As of now, India has never taken part in any joint patrol, the question of joint patrol does not arise”. If we took any such decision, the Ministry of Defence would brief you, Parrikar said.

His opinion is in line with New Delhi’s policy of keeping away from any such grouping that may anger China, which is locked in a territorial dispute with six other nations.

On March 2, Admiral Harris invited India to join in a four-nation grouping to jointly patrol seas and air space over contested waters. Admiral Harris, speaking at a function in New Delhi said: “India, Japan, Australia, the United States and so many other like-minded nations can aspire to patrol together anywhere, as international law allows. The idea of safeguarding freedom of access to international waters and airspace is not something new for us to ponder”.

He had cited the words of the US Ambassador to India Richard Verma to buttress his views: “I echo Ambassador Verma’s vision that, in the not too distant future, American and Indian Navy vessels steaming together will become a common and welcome sight throughout Indo-Asia-Pacific waters, as we work together to maintain freedom of the seas for all nations”. Considering the $5.3 trillion in trade that traverses each year from the Indian Ocean and through the South China Sea, we all have a vested interest in ensuring our region remain secure, stable, and prosperous.

Parrikar refused to comment on the reports that India was close to signing the “foundational agreements”: Logistics Support Agreement, Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement, and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for geospatial intelligence with the US.

The discussion on these agreements, he said, was taking place in the defence ministry and any change in India’s stance would be intimated by the government. US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter will visit to India next month.

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