"Indo-Pacific region is important for Trump Administration"

Washington: Observing that the Indo-Pacific strategy is a priority for the Trump Administration, a US official has said that one key aspect of the strategy is to give an alternative to Chinese developmental model to the countries of the region.

"The Indo-Pacific strategy, which was discussed within the national security strategy that was released in December of last year, is a priority strategy for this administration. And when we talk about the Indo-Pacific strategy, we're of course talking about India having a very important role in that strategy," a senior administration official said.

"This is part of the India-US growing defence and security partnership. But this is also about giving countries in an alternative and ensuring that other countries in the Indo-Pacific region maintain their sovereignty, independence. We encourage countries do have independency, sovereignty," the official said.

"When we invest in countries what we pay attention to is building up the country's economy so that they become more self-sufficient, self-reliant, the official said reiterating that the US sees a different role for China.

The US and its partners, the official said, is monitoring carefully what's happening in the Indian Ocean region.

"It's very important region and we work with like-minded states. The Indo Pacific strategy is about asserting values and norms like freedom of navigation, rule of law, transparent infrastructure financing… these kinds of issues. It's more about asserting those values more than anything," the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A day earlier Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of US Pacific Command told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US has a lasting national interest in the Indo-Pacific.

"I believe America's security and economic prosperity are indelibly linked to this critical region, which remains at a precarious crossroad where tangible opportunity meets significant challenge," he said.

"To be blunt, the stability of the Indo-Pacific matters to America. And the region needs a strong America, just as America needs a vibrant, thriving Indo-Pacific that remains both politically and economically free," the admiral said.

It is not just history that necessitates US continued presence in the Indo-Pacific region; it is the future as well, Harris said. The US must maintain credible combat power across the region in order to defend against revisionist powers that seek to subvert democracy and undermine a free and open international order, he said.

"It is to our long-term benefit to remain the region's security partner of choice by working closely with our allies and partners who share our commitment to uphold peace, economic prosperity, and security. We must not cede ground in this endeavor," the top Pentagon Commander said.

A key aspect of the National Defense Strategy, is the capabilities necessary to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific, Harris said.

"China's ongoing military modernisation is a core element of China's stated strategy to supplant the US as the security partner of choice for countries in the Indo-Pacific," he said.