There is room for Australia to join the Indo-US-Japan security cooperation

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said before a visit to India next week that the Trump administration wanted to “dramatically deepen” cooperation with New Delhi, seeing it as a key partner in the face of negative Chinese influence in Asia.

Speaking on Wednesday, less than a month before President Donald Trump is due to make his first state visit to China, Tillerson said the United States had begun to discuss creating alternatives to Chinese infrastructure financing in Asia.

In another comment likely to upset Beijing, he said Washington saw room to invite others, including Australia, to join U.S.-India-Japan security cooperation, something Beijing has opposed as an attempt by democracies to gang up on it.

The remarks coincide with the start of a week-long Chinese Communist Party congress at which President Xi Jinping is seeking to further consolidate his power.

“The United States seeks constructive relations with China, but we will not shrink from China’s challenges to the rules-based order and where China subverts the sovereignty of neighboring countries and disadvantages the U.S. and our friends,” Tillerson told the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

“India and the United States should be in the business of equipping other countries to defend their sovereignty, build greater connectivity, and have a louder voice in a regional architecture that promotes their interests and develops their economies,” Tillerson added.

The U.S. decision to expand relations with India almost certainly will upset India’s rival, Pakistan, where Tillerson also will stop next week, said a senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Pakistan was the main U.S. ally in South Asia for decades, but U.S. officials are frustrated with what they charge has been Pakistan’s failure to cut support for the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, where the administration wants India to play a bigger role in economic development.

As part of a South Asia strategy unveiled by Trump in August, Tillerson is expected to press Islamabad, which denies aiding the Taliban, to take stronger steps against extremists and allied groups and intensify efforts to pressure them to agree to peace talks with Kabul.

“We expect Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorist groups based there that threaten its own people and the broader region,” Tillerson said.

Trump has threatened further cuts in U.S. aid to Pakistan if it fails to cooperate.

China, a strategic rival to the United States and India, is also vital to Trump’s efforts to roll back North Korea’s efforts to create nuclear-armed missiles capable of reaching the United States, an issue expected to top the agenda in Trump’s Nov. 8-10 Beijing visit.

A senior State Department official defended the timing of the speech, saying Tillerson also said he wanted a constructive relationship with China.

“For many decades the United States has supported China’s rise,” said the official. “We’ve also supported India’s rise. But those two countries have risen very differently.”

The Chinese Embassy in Washington said in a statement that Beijing “contributes to and defends the rules-based world order” and seeks to enhance international cooperation.

“We will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion, never pursue development at the expenses of others’ interests,” it said.

Tillerson did not say what he meant by creating an alternative to Chinese infrastructure financing, but said the Trump administration had begun a “quiet conversation” with some emerging East Asian democracies at a summit in August.

He said Chinese financing was saddling countries with “enormous” debts and failing to create jobs.

“We think it’s important that we begin to develop some means of countering that with alternative financing measures.”

“We will not be able to compete with the kind of terms that China offers, but countries have to decide what are they willing to pay to secure their sovereignty and their future control of their economies and we’ve had those discussions with them as well,” he said.

By: Reuters

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Tillerson Hails Ties With India, but Criticizes China and Pakistan

On the eve of his first trip to South Asia as secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson made an impassioned plea on Wednesday for closer ties with India while casting China as a threat to the world order and saying Pakistan needed to do more to fight terrorism.

The pro-India tone of his speech, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, was clear when Mr. Tillerson began by wishing everyone a “Happy Diwali,” a reference to the fall Hindu festival of lights that is often marked by fireworks displays.

But he asked the audience to refrain from lighting any.

“I don’t need any fireworks,” he said to audible chuckles. “I’m getting too many fireworks around me already.”

Rumors about whether Mr. Tillerson has been considering leaving the Trump administration have surrounded him for months. His relationship with President Trump is thought to be rocky, with Mr. Trump posting messages on Twitter that undercut Mr. Tillerson’s diplomatic efforts and Mr. Tillerson openly disagreeing with the president on important policy matters.

But top American officials have been calling for closer ties with India for most of India’s seven decades as an independent nation, and little was new about Mr. Tillerson’s calls for improved military and economic relations between the two.

“The Trump administration is determined to dramatically deepen ways for the United States and India to further this partnership,” he said.

What was unusual, though, was that Mr. Tillerson felt the need to emphasize how much more the United States likes India than it does China and, to a lesser extent, Pakistan.

“China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly, at times undermining the international, rules-based order even as countries like India operate within a framework that protects other nations’ sovereignty,” Mr. Tillerson said. “China’s provocative actions in the South China Sea directly challenge the international law and norms that the United States and India both stand for.”

He was less critical of Pakistan, but his spare remarks — only three sentences in a 20-minute speech — made clear that the country would not get the affection its neighbor received.

“We expect Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorist groups based within their own borders that threaten their own people and the broader region,” Mr. Tillerson said.

He could have complimented Pakistan for its help last week in freeing an American woman and her Canadian husband who had been held hostage for five years by militants in Afghanistan. That he did not suggested his visits with top Pakistani officials could be cold.

Mr. Tillerson is expected to visit New Delhi and Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, next week.

As it has formulated its strategy for hot spots around the world, the Trump administration has emphasized that it looks at problems with a wider lens than its predecessors did — making decisions about troop levels in Afghanistan, for instance, dependent on a regional approach. So what goes up in India — meaning ties with the United States — seems to be headed down elsewhere.

Mr. Tillerson’s sharply critical remarks about China are the latest in what has been an almost bipolar attitude toward the country. Mr. Trump excoriated China during his campaign, but after assuming office, he expressed great respect for its president, Xi Jinping, saying that the United States was depending on China to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

And even as Chinese leaders have made clear that they will not or cannot resolve the North Korean crisis, Mr. Trump has continued to treat Beijing gently, imposing none of the trade and currency sanctions he promised.

China experts have been predicting for months that mutual disappointment was inevitable. Mr. Tillerson’s speech suggested that moment may have arrived, at least at the State Department.

In a question-and-answer session after his speech, Mr. Tillerson even criticized the way China invested in its neighbors, saying infrastructure projects that it financed brought few local jobs and saddled countries with enormous debt.

Mr. Tillerson also briefly touched on the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar.

“I think any of us that read this recent story in The New York Times, it just had to tear your heart out,” Mr. Tillerson said of reports of widespread atrocities being committed in Myanmar against the country’s Muslim ethnic minority. “If these reports are true, someone is going to be held to account for that.”

Myanmar’s government must allow improved access to the area for aid agencies, he said.

“The world just can’t stand idly by and be witness to the atrocities that are being reported in the area,” he said.

By: NY Times

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Key to getting India in UNSC is ‘Not To Touch Veto’: US’s Indian origin Ambassador Nikki Haley

The key to India becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council is “not to touch the veto”, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has said as she identified Russia and China as the two global powers against changes in the current structure of the Security Council. “This reform of the UN Security Council is much more about the veto. The permanent five (members of the Security Council) have the ability to veto. Russia, China, the UK, the US and France and none of them want to give that up,” Ms Haley said at an event.

“So the key to getting India on the Security Council would have to be not to touch the veto,” she said at the event organised in Washington by the US India Friendship Council.

The US is open to UN Security Council reform and always have been responding, she said in response to a question from Swadesh Chatterjee, chair of the US India Friendship Council, after she gave her keynote remarks.

Ms Haley said the US Congress or the Senate can’t have much role in reforming the Security Council. “Not really. They really can’t. Because members of the Security Council are not going to listen to the Congress on the shape of the Security Council,” she said.

Ms Haley said the US is already on board, but there is a need to focus “on Russia and China” — the two permanent members of the Security Council who “do not want to see any” changes in the Security Council.

“It’s a UN issue, it’s going to require UN reform and I think, India has to go and bring together as many supporters as it can in order to really effect that change in the Security Council,” Ms Haley said.

For long, India has been calling for reform of the UN Security Council. India and a large number of countries believe that the current UN and its powerful Security Council does not reflect the ground realities of the 21st century.

Last month, foreign minister of G4 countries — India, Brazil, Germany and Japan — met in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to push their case for reform of the Security Council, including expansion of its permanent and non-permanent members.

India has also received support from several other multilateral groupings during the General Assembly session, including from BRICS and IBSA. Several countries have taken up the floor of General Assembly to support India’s permanent membership.

By : PTI

Largest Ever Indian Army Contingent Reaches Russia for 1st Tri-Service Exercise

A contingent of Indian armed forces personnel have reached Russia to participate in the first international tri-service exercise. The contingent is the largest ever of the Indian armed forces to participate in an international joint exercise.

India has termed exercise INDRA-2017 as a landmark event in the history of India-Russia defense cooperation and has said that that it will further accentuate the importance of joint services in the current global environment.

“The exercise will provide an opportunity to the armed forces of the two countries to train in counter-terrorism operations in a multinational scenario in a tri-service environment,” Lt General Satish Dua, Integrated Defense Staff chief, said.

The Indian contingent comprises 350 personnel of the Indian Army, 80 Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel, and 480 Indian Navy personnel. Two IL 76 aircraft, one Talwar class Frigate and anti-submarine warfare capable INS Kadmat Corvette are part of the contingent. With 70 percent of the IAF’s military assets being of Russian origin, the IAF is not sending any of its military assets as the men will use Russian fighters, helicopters, and other equipment. The Special Forces and the Navy’s elite MARCOS commandos are also part of the team.

The Russian Federation Armed Forces will be represented by approximately 1000 troops of the 5th Army, Marines, and ships of the Pacific Fleet and aircraft from Eastern Military District.

Lt General Satish Dua, Integrated Defense Staff chief, is of the opinion that Russia is a “natural partner” for India to hold such an exercise. A few months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin had expressed similar sentiments while saying that Russia shares military ties with India that it does not share with any other country.

“There is no other country in the world that we have such deep cooperation in delicate areas such as missiles, and we benefit with cooperation with India. And this results from our trust-based relations with India,” Putin had said.

Exercise INDRA, in its previous nine avatars, were conducted as single service exercise alternately in the two countries.


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Afghan President Ghani to visit India ahead of Pakistan trip

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani is expected to visit India in two weeks before his trip to Pakistan, a reliable source said on Tuesday.

Earlier, Pakistan chief of army staff Javed Qamar Bajwa invited President Ghani to visit Islamabad. Afghan ambassador to Islamabad Hazrat Omar Zakhelwal said the president accepted the invitation.

However, he said, the details and time of the visit would be ascertained and determined after both countries held joint consultations.

On the other hand, India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met with President Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah on Monday in Kabul.

Doval reportedly extended an invitation on behalf of Prime Minister Narenda Modi to Ghani to visit India and the invitation was accepted.

A reliable source, who did not want to be named, told Pajhwok Afghan News that Ghani would travel to India before Pakistan in two weeks time.

By: Afghan News

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Indian troops leave for first ever tri-services joint military exercise with Russia

Over 400 personnel of the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy in addition to two IL 76 aircraft, one frigate and corvette each from the Navy today left the country to take part in INDRA 2017–the first ever Tri Services Joint Exercise between Indian and Russian Armed Forces which will be conducted in the Eastern Military District of Russia from October 19 to 29.

Exercise INDRA in its previous nine avatars has been conducted as a single service exercise alternately between the two countries. The year 2017 marks a major milestone as this exercise has been upgraded to involve all the three Services of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy & Air Force), which further accentuates the importance of Joint Services in the present world environment.

Exercise INDRA-2017 will be conducted at the 249th Combined Army Range Sergeevisky and in the Sea of Japan near Vladivostok. The Indian contingent will comprise of 350 personnel from Army, 80 from Air Force, two IL 76 aircraft and one Frigate and Corvette each from the Navy. The Russian Federation Armed Forces will be represented by approximately 1000 troops of the 5th Army, Marines and Ships of Pacific Fleet and aircraft from Eastern Military District.

Addressing the Indian Contingent today, Lt Gen Satish Dua reminded them of the importance of the upcoming Exercise which will provide an opportunity to the armed forces of both countries to train in counter terrorism operations in a multinational scenario in a joint tri-service environment. The scope of the exercise includes professional interactions, establishment of joint command and control structures between the Indian & Russian forces and elimination of terrorist threat in a multinational environment under the UN mandate.

Exercise INDRA-2017 is aimed at strengthening mutual confidence, inter-operability and enable sharing of best practices between both the armed forces. It will be a landmark event in the history of Indo-Russian defence cooperation and is expected to give the Indo-Russian defence cooperation a major boost.

By: DNA India

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South China Sea situation is cause of concern: Navy chief

Expressing concern over the conflict in the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula, chief of naval staff, admiral Sunil Lanba on Saturday said that “territorial sovereignty” of island states and nations has been “conveniently ignored” by some nations.

Lanba went on to point out that oceans should remain “free and secure for legitimate use” by countries if economic growth had to continue.

“Shared ownership cannot be loosely interpreted into unquestioned resource plundering,” Lanba said, while speaking at a maritime conference in south Goa. “Preserving the fragile ecosystem, ensuring its sustenance for the common good and respecting the territorial sovereignty of all littorals is also a collective responsibility that may be conveniently ignored by a few.”

Lanba was speaking on the need for integrated ocean governance and the ensuing challenges faced by stakeholders in the Indian Ocean Region. The naval chief pointed out that India’s strategic positioning in the Indian Ocean Region was a “tremendous opportunity”, but also meant that India had a greater role to play in the region.

Lanba stressed on the need for oceans to remain free and secure for legitimate use by all nations and that when conflicts between maritime states arose they should be resolved through established conflict resolution mechanisms.

“However, narrow, over-nationalistic attitudes at times tend to undermine such mechanisms as seen in part in the South China Sea or the Korean peninsula. This remains a cause of concern for all of us,” he added. “A sinister nexus also appears to be emerging between various forms of maritime crime such as terrorism, piracy, drug smuggling, gun running and large scale illegal fishing,” he said.


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