The India-US joint military exercises are strengthening bilateral ties and would help take on the scourge of terrorism more effectively, a senior US diplomat said here.
"Over the past five years the US and India have held several joint military exercises resulting in strengthened US-India bilateral relationship," said Robert O. Blake, charge d'affaires of the US embassy in India, at a reception here Wednesday night.
Referring to the Oct 29 Delhi serial blasts and the Nov 9 bombing in Amman, Jordan, he said the bombings are "sad reminders that terror knows no borders and respects no religion".
"It is through joint training that our two militaries will enhance their capacity to confront the scourge of terrorism," said Blake at the reception held to toast the ongoing 12-day India-US air exercises - Cope India 05 - at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal, which began Nov 7.
"These 10 days, our two forces have trained side by side on the ground and in the air. USAF (United States Air Force) F-16 have flown with IAF (Indian Air Force) Mirage 2000, MIG-21, SU-30 and Jaguar aircraft offering a tremendous training opportunity to both sides and enhancing the bonds between us," Blake said.
According to Blake, the "amazing progress in the defence cooperation should be seen as one element of a comprehensive relationship that continues to expand and deepen in scope and the July 18 visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (to the US) has marked a watershed in the ties between the two democracies".
Blake hoped that the defence framework signed by Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld in June will promote the defence relations of the two countries for the next decade.
"Through this framework we will improve cooperation between our armed forces, enlarge defence trade, co-produce military hardware and increase technology transfer," he said.
The air exercises at the Kalaikunda airbase, about 120 km southwest of here, are being protested by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which rules West Bengal.