Top US and Indian diplomats and defense chiefs discuss security issues, Israel-Hamas war

The top diplomats and defense chiefs from India and the United States met Friday to discuss security issues in the Indo-Pacific, China and the Israel-Hamas war.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. and India are continuing to “deepen our partnership, deepen our collaboration on everything from emerging technologies to defense to people-to-people ties, as well as our shared diplomacy to try to advance an Indo-Pacific region that’s free, that’s open, that’s prosperous, that’s resilient.”

He said the two sides discussed the crisis in the Middle East and “we appreciate the fact that from day one India has strongly condemned the attacks of Oct. 7. And as our joint statement makes clear, India and the United States stand with Israel against terrorists.”

While India has condemned the Hamas attack on Israel, it has also tried to balance its position by saying that “India has always advocated the resumption of direct negotiations towards establishing a sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine living within secure and recognized borders, side-by-side at peace with Israel.”

Blinken said he also discussed a diplomatic dispute that erupted when Canada alleged that India was involved in the assassination of a Sikh separatist in Canada.

“These are two of our closest friends and partners and, of course, we want to see them resolving any differences or disputes that they have,” Blinken said. “As a friend of both, we think it’s very important that India work with Canada on its investigation, and that they find a way to resolve this difference in a cooperative way.”

The dispute started when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there were “credible allegations” of Indian involvement in the killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in suburban Vancouver in western Canada. India rejected the accusation.

Blinken is in Asia engaging in intense diplomacy with regional partners to show unity over Russia’s war in Ukraine and other major issues and prevent existing differences on Gaza from deepening.

India and the U.S. have held so-called two-plus-two talks between India’s external affairs and defense ministers and the U.S. secretaries of state and defense since 2018 to discuss issues of concern and strengthen bilateral ties.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, discussed a roadmap for defense industrial cooperation that will fast-track technology cooperation and co-production of defense systems, India’s defense ministry said.

“We’re integrating our industrial bases, strengthening our inter-operability, and sharing cutting-edge technology,” Austin said in his opening remarks.

Washington expects India to be a leading security provider in the Indo-Pacific region.

by Ch Fahad Khan Janda