First maritime security dialogue held between India, USA
Towards deepening the evolving partnership in the maritime domain, India and U.S. held the first round of discussions. Among the issues discussed were Asia-Pacific maritime challenges, naval cooperation, and multilateral engagement. India and US also agreed to launch a bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue, co-chaired by Joint Secretary/Assistant Secretary-level of officials of the Defence Ministries of both the countries.
The start of the dialogue was through one of the agreements reached between the two countries during the visit to India in April by US defence secretary Ashton Carter. It comes against backdrop of increased Indian naval engagement in the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia, the US "pivot" or "rebalance" towards Asia. America is looking at India to step-up its role in the region.
These talks are part of the India-US Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region. They also agreed to launch a bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue, co-chaired by senior officials of Defence ministries of both countries. The other initiatives include a "white shipping" technical arrangement to improve data sharing on commercial shipping traffic and Navy-to-Navy discussions on submarine safety and anti-submarine warfare.
China claims most of South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes annually. US believes China may start reclamation activities on Scarborough Shoal, which lies within Philippines claimed 370 km exclusive economic zone.
India-US have put out a joint strategic vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. It calls for the freedom of navigation and unimpeded movement of ships through the global commons or high seas. It is in an oblique reference to China putting embargoes on the movement of ships and airplanes through the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
The India-US dialogue comes as India and the US are warily eyeing the rise of China. China building artificial islands in the South China Sea is also upsetting its smaller neighbours like Philippines and Vietnam.