The White House has issued a fact sheet detailing the Joint Statement agreed to today by Pres. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi. The Joint Statement contains a number of items that are directly relevant to homeland security:
(3) Reaffirmed their commitment to the protection of the free flow of commerce and to the safety of navigation, and agreed to the conclusion of a Maritime Cooperation Framework to enhance security in the maritime domain, to prevent piracy and other transnational crimes at sea, carry out search and rescue operations, combat marine pollution, respond to natural disasters, address emergent threats and enhance cooperative capabilities, including through logistics support. Both sides are working to finalize a Logistics Support Agreement at the earliest.
(4) Welcomed India’s intention to join the Container Security Initiative aimed at making global maritime trade and infrastructure more secure and reducing the risk of shipping containers being used to conceal weapons of mass destruction.
(5) Reiterated their commitment to international efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
(6) Building on the July 2005 Disaster Relief Initiative, noted the important disaster management cooperation and their improved capabilities to respond to disaster situations.
(7) Recognized the importance of capacity building in cyber security and greater cooperation to secure their growing electronic interdependencies, including to protect electronic transactions and critical infrastructure from cybercrime, terrorism and other malicious threats.
(5) Agreed to expand bilateral efforts and continue cooperation in the area of medical research and strengthen technical capacity in food and drug regulation in India as well as address the concern on avian influenza, including agreement to reach out to the private sector, develop regional communications strategies, and plan an in-region containment and response exercise. The President welcomed India’s offer to host the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza meeting in 2007.
These proposals are sensible extensions of international engagement on homeland security issues by the United States. Cybersecurity cooperation is especially noteworthy given the two countries’ growing IT ties, and cooperation on the avian flu is vital given India’s recent exposure to the threat. There needs to be careful thought given about how to apply some of these ideas; for example, in terms of the Container Security Initiative (CSI), India does not have a port ranked among the world’s fifty busiest, and most of its container traffic is transhipped through other major hub ports (i.e. Singapore, Dubai) before reaching U.S. shores. So the model for joining CSI should be different for key Indian ports than for many of the initial CSI ports.