Washington: The US will continue to support India with equipment and other things it needs along the Line of Actual Control with China, a top American admiral has told lawmakers, asserting that Washington and New Delhi share a “tremendous partnership”.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Military Posture in the Indo-Pacific Region’, Admiral John Aquilino, Commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, said the military-to-military relationship between the two countries is probably at its highest point.

He was responding to a question from Senator Gary Peters.

My question for you, Admiral, is can you speak to the relationship you have with our Indian counterparts and what more can we do to strengthen our security relationship between our two countries? Peters asked.

Senator, to start, I have no concerns. Our partners in India are tremendous partners, and the military-to-military relationship is probably at its highest point. We continue to do more together, Admiral Aquilino said in response.

But when you talk about tremendous partnership, it’s there. What more can we do? Continue the information sharing, continue to support them with the equipment they need upon the Line of Actual Control, and continue to partner and operate together throughout the region, he said.

The Malabar exercise with Japan, Australia, the United States, and India is critical. Increased mini lateral and multilateral engagements with the Indians, and ultimately continue to sell them equipment so we can be more interoperable and more effective together in the military sphere, he said.

The Malabar exercise started in 1992 as a bilateral drill between the Indian Navy and the U.S. Navy in the Indian Ocean. Japan became a permanent member of the exercise in 2015. This annual exercise was conducted off the coast of Guam in 2018 and off the coast of Japan in 2019.

The exercise was hosted in two phases in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea in 2020.

There have been mounting global concerns over China’s growing military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

India, the U.S., Australia, Japan and many other like-minded countries are working towards ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

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