• Friday, April 12, 2024

Business

India biggest US partner in South Asia: Afreen Akhter

Akhter said the US and India have deepened a very broad and multifaceted defence partnership through joint exercises

Afreen Akhter

By: Pramod Thomas

DESCRIBING India as its biggest partner in South Asia, the Biden administration has said it is working with New Delhi to deploy a multi-billion-dollar climate infrastructure and a new fund that will include a $500 million investment contribution from its development finance institution.

“With India, which of course is our biggest partner in South Asia, we launched in January of last year the US-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology. We call this iCET,” Afreen Akhter, deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, said at a news conference organised by the Washington Foreign Press Center.

The goal is to build a resilient semiconductor supply chain, elevate space cooperation, and partner on the next generation of telecommunications – so, again, a really ambitious initiative to build cooperation on critical and emerging technologies with India, she said on Wednesday (14).

The US is also advancing regional resilience to transnational threats.

“We want to talk about it in terms of our work on infrastructure or – and climate change and responding to pandemics. So, under the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, which is another initiative we announced recently, we’re working with India to deploy multi-billion-dollar climate infrastructure and a new fund that will include a $500m investment contribution from our Development Finance Corporation,” she said.

“This will also include 40,000 public e-buses through an innovative payment secured – security mechanism financed by the Government of India, the United States, and our partners of philanthropy.”

“And then finally, we also launched the Climate Action Champions Work in South Asia, which is intended to invest in the next generation of climate leaders to support climate advocacy and respond to their needs throughout the region. So as you can see, we’re deeply engaged with all of our partners across the Indo-Pacific and East Asia and South Asia.”

Akhter said the US and India have deepened a very broad and multifaceted defence partnership through joint exercises, strengthened defence industrial cooperation, and the annual 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.

She added that building on defence relationship is one of the key features of the Indo-Pacific strategy.

Akhter added, “Last fall, the US and India’s Adani Group announced a half-billion-dollar investment in the Port of Colombo in Sri Lanka. This investment is intended to expand the capacity of the port, which is already operating at like 90 per cent capacity and really enable Sri Lanka to become an even bigger economic player in the region as it sits in this prime shipping route.

“To bolster regional security, we’re always engaging with our South Asian partners and really looking to build out those security relationships in the region. And we’re doing that through a variety of ways, but one way we’re doing it is, of course, providing our partners with new capabilities,” she said.

In the Maldives, the US recently announced the delivery of four new patrol boats to help them monitor their Exclusive Economic Zones. We also provided three Coast Guard cutters to Sri Lanka, Akhter said.

(PTI)

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