US' relationship with India of utmost importance: James Mattis

Washington: President-elect Donald Trump's Defence Secretary nominee Gen (retd) James Mattis said on Friday that US' strategic ties with India was of "utmost importance" and if confirmed, promised to assess areas where the two countries could further bolster their defence ties.

"The US policy should continue to pursue a long-term strategic relationship with India based in convergence of our interests and our shared democratic values," Mattis told lawmakers in a written submission to the Senate Armed Services Committee ahead of his confirmation hearing.

 US relationship with India of utmost importance: James Mattis

James Mattis. AP

In his written answers to the questions submitted by members of the Committee, Mattis noted that the US and India recently cemented India's status as a Major Defense Partner.

"If confirmed, I would assess what particular areas in the bilateral security relationship I should focus, and what steps can be taken to bolster the overall defense relationship," said 66-year-old Mattis, who retired in 2013 after serving as commander of US Central Command.

India is the world's largest democracy and "our relationship with it is of utmost importance," he said.

"In my view, and particularly on security and defense issues, the US-India relationship has been strengthened in recent years," he said.

Mattis said cooperation on defense and trade and technology has grown to the benefit of both countries under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative.

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Updated Date: Jan 13, 2017 09:03:52 IST