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India Emerges as Biggest US Partner in South Asia, Says American Official

Afreen Akhter, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA), stated this during a Washington Foreign Press Center press conference.

“With India, our largest South Asian partner, we created the US-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology in January of last year. “We call this iCET,” Akhter explained.

The objective is to develop a robust semiconductor supply chain, strengthen space collaboration, and collaborate on the next generation of telecommunications – so, once again, a really ambitious endeavor to deepen cooperation with India on important and emerging technologies, she said on Wednesday.

The United States is also building 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 USD 500 million 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,” Akhter said.

“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,” she said.

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.

“We are really focused on building out that defence relationship. It’s one of the key features of our Indo-Pacific strategy,” she said.

The US is making huge investments throughout South Asia, she said.

“So last fall, the United States 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,” Akhter said.

“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. It has provided three Coast Guard cutters to Sri Lanka, she said.

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