With missile defence taking a backseat, India and the U.S. held high level discussions on the possibility of signing two military agreements that would pave the way for increased defence trade and greater joint interaction at the military level.
Although the U.S. is keen on the two agreements — Logistics Sharing Agreement (LSA) and the Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) — to be inked as soon as possible, no assurance was forthcoming from the Indian side.
At their two-day apex level Defence Planning Group (DPG) meeting, which concluded here on Friday, both countries also reviewed the progress made in bilateral defence ties since the signing of the Defence Framework Agreement in 2005. “Each side will bring ideas and we will spend time over them over the next few months so that we have time to bring new proposals to the next DPG in 2010,” senior Pentagon official William Lynn told journalists here.
On the two military agreements, Mr. Lynn pointed out that both have been discussed over several years and there has been “pretty full exchange on their elements and benefits but action remained to be taken by the Indian government in bringing them on to the signing table.
U.S. officials once again informed their Indian counterparts about the need to ink the CISMOA as it would give an impetus to defence sales. They also pointed out that the LSA would enable them undertake more joint exercises, while cutting down on red tape.
Mr. Lynn said that the DPG also dwelt on China, a “significant country which plays an important role” in the region and discussed ways to build on the existing relationships which both countries have developed with it.
On the multi-billion dollar tender for 126 fighter aircraft, which has two U.S. companies in the fray, the Pentagon officials discussed the foundational trade agreements that would be the underpinning of the deal. “We wanted to deepen defence trade, have more joint exercises and operations and exchange information on a variety of topics, Mr. Lynn said.