September 20, 2014

US keen on strong military ties with India: Army Chief

America is keen to sustain and strengthen its military relationship with India, US Army Chief said on Friday (September 19) ahead of the Modi-Obama Summit at the White House later this month. "India and the United States have a lot in common....They are the two large democracies. I think it is important for us to build trust between the two militaries and we energise our relationship," General Raymond T Odierno said.

On India US Joint military exercise 'Yudh Abhyas 2014' coinciding with Chinese President Xi Jinping's India visit, he said it was planned much in advance and had nothing to do with the timing of Xi's trip. "This exercise (Yudh Abhyas) was planned quite some time ago. So this was not a reaction (to the visit of the Chinese President). We had coordinated these exercises some time ago," General Odierno told Defence Writers Groups in a breakfast meeting.

The General said that China was also invited to participate in this joint India-US military exercise in Uttarakhand which began on September 17. "In fact one time we actually invited the Chinese to participate in it. So it was not something that we were hiding from the Chinese or we had planned it long time ago," he said in response to a question. Gen Odierno, who visited India some 18 months ago, said he had a really good visit and had an opportunity to "understand, what they are doing and how they are developing."

"We want to sustain that over the time. As we look in the future, in this complex world...the key is having solid partners that trust each other. Building these partnership is part of it and India plays an important role in that," he said. The annual Yudh Abhyas military exercise started this week under the aegis of Garud Division/Surya Command and is 10th in the series of combined military training exercises between India and the US. It will continue till September 30. Prime Minister Narendera Modi will meet US President Barack Obama at the White House on September 29 and 30. 

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