Washington: Ahead of Vice President Joe Biden's maiden visit to India, a top US naval commander has said ties between the navies of the two countries have hit the "big time" as they are conducting coordinated operations.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan W Greenert characterised navy-to-navy ties as "solid and growing" and said bilateral wargames had progressed from "two ships going by doing flashing lights probably about a decade ago, to coordinated operations, carrier air wing and under sea".
"And that's when you hit the big time, when you can work with a partner under the water and ensure yourself, you're not going to run into each other, and we are at that level with the Indian Navy," Greenert told reporters yesterday in response to a question about the US re-balancing its strategy in Asia Pacific.
His comments came ahead of Biden's four-day visit to India starting Monday. Biden will hold meetings with the top leadership, including President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Greenert, however, said the India-US Malabar naval exercise had been scaled down because of "issues" on both sides. He did not give details about the move.
"We had to de-scope it some, because of each of our issues ...but we've kept the exercise and we've kept it as high-end and complex," he said.
"It just may not run as long. So I'm comfortable at that level, and we try to work to the level that resonates with both our navies."
On ties between the US and Chinese navies, Greenert said, "I like the trend we're on right now and working toward and, in some cases, getting some tangible outcome of working together.
"We operated together a humanitarian assistance, disaster relief scenario, doing command-and-control together, doing the proper protocols at sea, and we agree, this needs to continue.".
He said China would also join the 'RIMPAC' or Rim of the Pacific 2014 exercise.
Greenert also spoke about increased incidents of piracy, particularly in the northwest region of the Gulf of Oman.
"I received this through conversations with my counterparts in the Gulf states, conversations with my counterparts (in the) Pakistani Navy, Indian Navy, and they're finding they have to spend more time over there," he said.
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