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Aero India 2023

India standing against a bully: Defence Secretary Aramane

NEW DELHI (PTI): India is standing against a "bully" in a very "determined fashion", Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane has said referring to the situation arising out of China's military assertiveness along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.

His remarks came on Wednesday while replying to a question during an interactive session at the INDUS-X Summit.

India and the US can play a pivotal role in shaping the geopolitical landscape of the Indo-Pacific, promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in the region, Aramane said.

"The possibility that we may encounter a similar situation to what we faced in 2020 is keeping us active all the time," he said.

Aramane was asked about challenges India is facing along the LAC and New Delhi's expectation from Washington to deal with common challenges.

"One thing which helped us very quickly is the intelligence, the situational awareness which the US equipment and the US government helped us with. So that is one single most important area ...," he said.

The defence secretary said the strong resolve that both India and the US support each other in the face of a common threat is going to be of critical importance.

"India is giving a face off to our neighbour in almost all the fronts we have with them, wherever there is a mountain pass, we are stationed there... and wherever there is a road we have to be there. So that way we are there standing against a bully in a very determined fashion," he said.

Aramane said India expects friends like the US to be supportive.

"We expect that our friends the US will be there with us in case we need their support," he said.

"We greatly appreciate the support and resolve from our friends in supporting us during such an event, basically the information, the intelligence and any support by way of equipment will be of great use to us," he said.

The Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a standoff in certain friction points in eastern Ladakh even as the two sides completed disengagement from several areas following extensive diplomatic and military talks.

In his address at the summit, Aramane stressed that India and the US are key stakeholders in the Indo-Pacific bounded by shared values and common interests.

"Today, we are witnessing a pivotal moment in the history of the Indo-Pacific region. The Indo-Pacific, with its vast expanse of oceans and strategic waterways, stands as the crossroad of global commerce, geopolitics, and security," Aramane said.

"In navigating the complex dynamics of this region, India and the US find themselves as key stakeholders, bound by shared values and common interests," he said.

Noting that the robust defence partnership between the two countries is rooted in mutual respect and strategic convergence, Aramane also cited the launch of Initiatives on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) as a key measure to bolster ties.

"A pivotal aspect of our burgeoning relationship is the iCET that aims to establish 'Innovation Bridges' across key sectors," he said.

On the bilateral partnership in the aerospace and defence sectors, Aramane said, "Our bilateral relationship is flourishing, with India increasingly turning to the US for cutting-edge equipment and technology. The US in turn, sees India as a key partner in its Indo-Pacific strategy, leveraging India's growing defence capabilities."

He also talked about the multilateral engagements where both the countries are stakeholders.

The defence secretary underscored the "success stories" of India's defence production, ranging from shipbuilding, including aircraft carriers, to the development of advanced platforms such as Tejas multi-role fighter aircraft.

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