Washington, Apr 12 (PTI) The US will strengthen alliances in the Indo-Pacific region for a networked security architecture capable of deterring aggression, maintaining stability and ensuring free access to common domains, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said today.

A free and open Indo-Pacific region provides prosperity and security for all, Mattis said in his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing.

“We will continue to strengthen our alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific to a networked security architecture capable of deterring aggression, maintaining stability and ensuring free access to common domains,” he said.

With key countries in the region, the US will bring together bilateral and multilateral security relationships to preserve the free and open international system, he said.

Describing the global situation as sobering, Mattis said both Russia and China are modernising their military arsenal.

“The global situation is sobering. Russia is modernising its full range of nuclear systems while espousing a theory of nuclear escalation in military conflict. China, too, is modernising and expanding its already considerable nuclear forces, pursuing entirely new capabilities, he said.

“China is also modernising its conventional military forces to a degree that will challenge the US military superiority.

“While recent events have given rise to a sense of positive movement, North Korea’s nuclear provocations threaten regional and global peace and have garnered universal condemnation by the UN. Iran’s nuclear ambitions also remain an unresolved concern. Globally, nuclear terrorism remains a tangible threat,” the Defence Secretary said.

Mattis said that long-term strategic competitors like Russia, China, North Korea and Iran are using increasingly aggressive methods and levels of sophistication to conduct malicious activities.

The challenge facing the (Defence) Department is equally applicable to public and private networks across the US, networks that are already held at risk, he said.

Mattis said nations as different as China and Russia have chosen to be strategic competitors as they seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models and pursue veto power over other nations’ economic, diplomatic and security decisions.

“Rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran persist in taking outlaw actions that undermine and threaten regional and global stability. Additionally and despite our success against ISIS’ physical caliphate, violent extremist organisations continue to sow hatred, incite violence and murder innocents,” he added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.