He said the challenge before both nations was to “seize the opportunities before us”. “Bureaucratic red tape - within either of our governments - must not bound the limits of our partnership and initiatives,” he stressed.
He said he was looking forward to the next meeting of the defense framework agreement to replace the 10-year defence agreement that is due to expire next year.
On India’s expanded role in South Asia and the region, Hagel said: “As India expands its own security role in South Asia and through the Pacific, the US will continue to support and encourage India’s peaceful ambitions.”
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi by his invite to South Asian leaders to his swearing-in ceremony signalled his intent of better ties with Pakistan and other neighbors. On India’s long-term involvement in Afghanistan’s development, Hagel said, “By providing assistance to the Afghan security forces and the significant humanitarian development support, India has invested in long term regional stability.” On China, he said: “Just as the US need not choose between its Asian alliances and a constructive relationship with China, India need not choose between closer partnership with America and improved ties with China”.
Speaking of the Indian general elections, he said they reflected the power of a democracy and its people. “India’s elections were a reminder that democracy is not only how we vote, but also who we are.” Drawing parallels between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rise to power, Hagel said that “it is no coincidence that the son of a tea seller becomes the Indian prime minister and a child born in a small Kenyan family becomes US president.” In defense cooperation, the US defense secretary said there were several proposals that would transfer technology and production expertise to India. This included a plan for the US and India to co-produce and co-develop the Javelin anti-tank missile. On PM Modi’s forthcoming visit to the US, Hagel said that President Barack Obama is “very much looking forward to the summit meeting .