India, U.S. may sign defence pact during Obama trip: Parrikar

India and the United States are likely to sign their new 10-year defence framework agreement during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit here later this month, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday.

He said the strengthening of the existing framework and enhancement of its scope was going to be “definitely beneficial” for India.

“[The signing of the agreement] is one of the possibilities... These are issues which are in the spectrum, on the horizon,” Mr. Parrikar told Karan Thapar on his show ‘To the Point’ on Headlines Today.

However, the Defence Minister said the issue would be decided by the Prime Minister’s Office. The U.S. President will be visiting the country later this month to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade here.

Asked if he welcomes such a framework, Mr. Parrikar said: “I think strengthening our ties with the U.S., with the already existing framework enhancing its scope, is definitely beneficial to the country.”

He said technology transfer initiatives and trade could be important areas of the new framework.

Mr. Parrikar pointed out that the focus would not be on procurement but on joint development of technology and technology transfer.

“There is already existing technology and trade [cooperation] which can be expanded,” he said.

On a query about enhancing joint military exercises, Mr. Parrikar said it was already underway and that “enhancing it is not a big problem”.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the U.S. last September, both countries had agreed in principle to extend their defence agreement for another 10 years, which will take forward the cooperation between the two nations in the crucial area.

The framework agreement, which expires this year, was signed in the U.S. in 2005 by the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Donald Rumsfeld, his U.S. counterpart in the previous George W. Bush admininstration.

The new framework is likely to enhance the bilateral defence partnership by stepping up joint military exercises and through more in-depth intelligence-sharing, maritime security, etc.

It will also include a drive against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The most-significant aspect would be the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) — aimed at enhancing the ones existing under the Defence Policy Group — which laid out the path for future defence cooperation.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 8:01:49 PM |

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