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US And Philippines Laud India’s Role As Stabilising Force In Indo-Pacific

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The US and Philippines lauded India’s role as a stabilising force for good in the Indo-Pacific.

“The relationship that we enjoy with India right now is as good as or better than or relationship has ever been. It’s really strong.”

Setting aside the hyperbole, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin waxed eloquent on India at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

“You know several years we set out with the notion to gain approval for India to build jet engines for fighter aircraft in India … I know how difficult this was going to be and we were hopeful but very sceptical that we could get this across the finish line. We did it.”

Last year General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics signed an agreement to jointly build jet engines in India to power the Tejas fighters of the IAF. There is also an agreement for India to buy around $4 billion of drones including the MQ9B armed with Hellfire missiles.

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Austin referred to “co-producing armoured vehicles with India,” although it’s not clear if India is interested given the number of domestic players in that segment.

He said India and the US are anchored by common values and vision … “and that flywheel is going to pick up speed because this benefits us all,” he said. “I do think this will be lasting. India is an important force for political stability, peace and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia.”

Also at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos said he intended to “pursue more robust collaboration with friends such as the Republic of Korea, India among others. Collaborative endeavours among states that share specific interests, built into pillars that support the architecture of regional stability.

India is readying delivery of the fourth battery of the land variant of the Brahmos cruise missile system to Manila. The system is expected to help the Philippines counter China’s aggressive forays into its territorial waters, and give that country the teeth to mount a challenge.