GATES DENIES SEEING INDIA AS MILITARY ‘HEDGE' AGAINST CHINA
Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, denied yesterday that US efforts to boost military relations with India were aimed at creating a “hedge” strategy against the rise of China.
“I don't see our improving military relationship in this region in the context of any other country, including China,” said Mr Gates.
Speaking to reporters in Delhi, Mr Gates rejected suggestions that efforts to improve relations with other militaries in the Asia-Pacific region were aimed at China. In the case of India, Mr Gates said the Pentagon wanted to bolster the ability of the US and Indian militaries to work together on issues such as piracy, terrorism, and providing disaster relief.
“When you look at the kinds of activities that we are engaged in and the kind of exercises that we conduct . . . these expanding relationships don't necessarily have to be directed against anybody,” said Mr Gates. “They are a set of bilateral relationships that are aimed at improving our co-ordination and the closeness of our relationships for a variety of reasons.”
The Pentagon chief arrived in Delhi from Jakarta where he offered the Indonesian military help with its modernisation programme. He also visited Canberra amid concerns that Australia's increasing economic dependence on China could complicate security relations with the US.
One senior Pentagon official travelling with Mr Gates denied that India was in the middle of a “tug of war” between the US and China. But he suggested the US was attempting to bolster relations with Asian countries to counter China.
By Demetri Sevastopulo and Jo Johnson in New Delhi
Thursday, February 28, 2008