India can be an anchor for stability and security in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean, US President Barrack Obama said in Sunday.
In an interview, the US president said: “The United States looks forward to the work we can do together. We continue to expand our military exercises and maritime cooperation so that our forces become inter operable. We are increasing our defence trade, and we’re collaborating more closely to jointly develop defence technologies.”
He also said India and the US had agreed to a “new joint vision” for the Asian Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.
Obama also said the US recognises that the Indian Ocean is vital to the security of the region and the global economy, replying to a question on what role he sees for India in the emerging security situation in the Asia Pacific given what is happening and the nuclear tests by North Korea.
“Our vision recognises that the Indian Ocean is vital to the security of the region and the global economy. And it welcomes India’s determination to ‘Act East’ with stronger security and economic partnerships across the region,” the US President said.
“We have elevated our trilateral cooperation with Japan, including on disaster response and humanitarian assistance. And we very much welcome India’s increased ties with the region.”
Obama also warned China to follow rules of international law, referring to the South China Sea dispute.
“…It’s rooted in our shared interests in a region that’s peaceful and prosperous and where all countries play by the same rules, in accordance with international law and norms, including freedom of navigation,” Obama said in the interview.
The Asia Pacific region has witnessed tension after China flexed its military muscle in the resource-rich South China Sea. The South China Sea is also a major shipping lane. Over half of the world’s commercial shipping passes through the Indo-Pacific waterways.
China claims almost the whole of the South China Sea, resulting in overlapping claims with several other Asian nations such as Vietnam and the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, who accuse the Asian giant of reclaiming land illegally in contested areas to create artificial islands with facilities that could potentially be for military use.
The US has criticised Beijing for building artificial islands in the disputed sea, and has flown a B-52 bomber and sailed a guided-missile destroyer near some of the constructions China has made in recent months, which has lead to rising tensions between the two countries.
Obama said as president he had worked to renew American leadership in the Asia Pacific because the security and prosperity of the region is critical to its own and that of the world.
“I am proud that, even as we continue to meet pressing challenges elsewhere in the world, we’ve rebalanced our foreign policy and are now playing a larger role in the region.”
Obama said the US has strengthened alliances, modernised its defence posture, worked to build constructive relationship with China, helped strengthened regional institutions like ASEAN and East Asia Summit and expanded cooperation with emerging powers, including India.