Washington D.C. [United States], Aug.31 (ANI
): Responding to question related to China expressing concern about India and U.S. signing a logistic agreement, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said at his media briefing that while he had not seen the details of the said agreement, no country should have any fears about such pacts.
"Broadly speaking, "a deepening, stronger, more cooperative bilateral relationship with India is nothing that anybody should fear or worry about. We both are democracies; we both have incredible opportunities and influence on the global stage, and a better relationship between the United States and India is not just good for our two countries, not just good for the region, it's good for the world," Kirby said.
Kirby's response was to a question related to the United States and India signing a major military deal to facilitate the bilateral use of naval bases, and allow Washington to boost its military presence on China's doorstep.
The signing of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) this week after over a decade of preparation; was a highlight of Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's three-day visit to Washington.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter praised the agreement, saying it would aid the "overall maritime security" and contribute to "freedom of navigation" across the world.
The deal allows the US Navy to use India's naval bases to re-supply during military exercises, humanitarian missions and disaster operations.
The same rules would apply to India, but in reverse. However LEMOA does not allow for the deployment of troops on the base; Washington or New Delhi would have to seek a separate agreement for that.
Before the agreement was signed, the American and Indian navies had to ask for permission to enter one another's military bases, with requests having to be reviewed by the 'host' side in each individual case.
LEMOA is removing these barriers, allowing Washington in particular to increase its operational capabilities in the South China Sea.
The US Navy beefed up its presence and patrols in the area over the past months, adding to the already tense relations between America and China.
Beijing is currently involved in a territorial row over parts of South China Sea, including the Spratly and the Paracel Islands. The territories are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.
On July 12 the International Hague Tribunal ruled that "there is no legal basis for China to claim historic rights" for the contested territories. Beijing defied the ruling saying the territories are its exclusive economic zone. It has also accused Washington of taking sides in the dispute.
The US has launched several navy drills in the South China Sea, including in June this year. Its war ships and aircraft operated in a close proximity to the Spratly Islands during the exercises.
Washington also repeatedly sent its warships on patrols near the territories contested by Beijing, which on its part launched navy drills in the area as well.
The US is seeking to assert its right to freely sail in the South China
Sea under the so-called "freedom of navigation" campaign.
The region is one of the busiest maritime traffic routes and Washington does not want to be required to seek prior permission to sail past the many islands in the sea. (ANI