India, US can resist coercion, work together to ensure freedom of skies, seas: US ambassador

US Ambassador Eric Garcetti. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: India and the US have the power to build a more peaceful world and that the two largest democracies can together build a bulwark against the "might makes right" mentality, US Ambassador Eric Garcetti has said.

In an address at an event in IIT-Delhi on Wednesday, he said the counries can jointly resist "coercion" and deploy ships and air forces together in the Indo-Pacific to ensure freedom of the skies and the seas.

He said the two countries are poised to further deepen co-production of military equipment and cited the planned work in aero-engines, artillery and ground vehicles as just a few examples.

Touching on the issues relating to human rights, he said the US will continue to engage with India on it "as we have always done, and as we do in all countries around the world." He also quoted Mahatma Gandhi: "our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and test of our civilization."

India and the US can stand together against those who would upend the common good for their own benefit, he said in comments seen as an oblique reference to China.

Garcetti said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's state visit to Washington last week "crystallised" that the India-US partnership is accelerating at "breathtaking speed" and is having "undeniable impact".

"The US and India have the power to set an example and build a more peaceful world, in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. A key component of peace is protection," he said.

"As we've unfortunately seen over the past three years, we live in a world in which countries ignore sovereign borders, advancing their claims through violence and destruction," he said, in an apparent reference to China and Russia.

"This is not the world we want. This is not the world we need," he added.

The envoy emphasised that both sides should set higher ambition in the relationship and focus on realising it. He underscored his remarks with a simple Hindi phrase: "Sapne sakar karna (making dreams into reality)".

"We can stand together for choice, resisting coercion. We can stand together as a force for stability to avert regional and global crises. We can deploy our ships together in the Pacific and Indian oceans, and even beyond, to ensure maritime security," he said.

"We can employ our air forces across the Indo-Pacific region to ensure freedom of the skies and the seas, and to jointly respond to humanitarian crises from the Sahara to the Pacific Islands," he added.

"We can coordinate our land-force exercises across regions to bolster the sovereign defence of all countries who want to work with us. These are opportunities fully within our control as 'Major Defence Partners'," he noted.

Garcetti described Modi's visit to the US as the celebration of the India-US ties.

"The celebration was real. And from the White House to the Capitol, the American government, across party lines, congressional houses, and the different branches of government all brought a fantastic celebration," he said.


(With PTI inputs)

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