The Indian Navy Chief Sunil Lanba will begin his five-day visit to the US today. The visit will mainly focus on the bi-lateral naval cooperation between the two nations. Admiral Lanba will hold extensive talks on the naval cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and in the Indian Ocean region. Admiral Lanba will also meet his counterpart James Mattis, Secretary of the US Navy Richard V Spencer, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F Dunford Jr, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John M Richardson and Commander of Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris, reports said.
The growing military presence of China in the South China Sea and its assertive behaviour in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has been a major cause of concern to the US and India. The Navy Chief’s visit hopes to address the issue during his visit to Washington. This visit will also strengthen India’s role in the Indo-Pacific region which the US had been very persuasive of.
Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or the Quad, the coming together of India, US, Japan and Australia to develop a new maritime strategy is indeed a policy in making to counter Chinese influence in IOR and the South China Sea. However, Indian had downplayed Quad after it was rechristened in Manila at the sidelines of 31st ASEAN Summit. But, now the Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region and the Navy Chief’s visit to the US, shows India’s stronger participation with the US and its allies. In addition to India being accorded as the Defence Partner status by the US, the Pentagon recently also called India the “biggest strategic opportunity” for the US. With the US showing more openness to strengthen the bilateral ties, India will definitely have a strong strategic policy to address its maritime issues in IOR.
The diplomatic and military relations between Indian and the US have been on an upswing during the Trump administration. Repeated efforts have been made by both the governments to keep the bi-lateral ties bolstered. The Admiral’s visit might also bring out several confidence-building measures, joint military and naval exercises. Apart from holding bilateral discussions, Admiral Sunil Lanba will also visit the Pacific Command Headquarters at Pearl Harbour, the Naval Surface Warfare Centre (NSWC) in Dahlgren, the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC, reports said.