CNN Politics reports that outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter was in Delhi in the second week of December in a last bid to boost relations with an ally that could prove crucial to U.S.-India defense relations.
En route to New Delhi, Carter told reporters, “India and the United States are destined to be strategic partners.” The relationship has “grown by leaps and bounds” since 2008, Carter said, adding that he intended to discuss with his counterpart a “major change” that is “very close to the finish line” regarding the easing of regulations on defense exports to India, reported CNN.
Carter highlighted Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s “Act East Policy,” a diplomatic initiative aimed at boosting India’s presence and relationships in East and Southeast Asia. Some analysts in Washington and New Delhi see the two large democracies as natural allies, and Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, told Congress in February, “As the world’s two largest democracies, we are uniquely poised to help bring greater security and prosperity to the entire region.”
“We’ve made significant progress on the defense side with India
,” a U.S. defense official said. U.S. arms exports to India were 11 times higher in 2010-2015 than 2006-2010, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
, an independent resource on global security.