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Obama visit to launch new Indo-U.S. defence agenda

The signing of the framework will be a significant symbol of growing Indo-U.S. defence ties. In picture, President Barack Obama is seen with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington. File photo.

The signing of the framework will be a significant symbol of growing Indo-U.S. defence ties. In picture, President Barack Obama is seen with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington. File photo.  

Announcement of projects under the ‘Defence Trade and Technological Initiative’ likely.

A new 10-year defence framework with the United States is likely be finalised in time for President Barack Obama’s visit to India. This will be the highlight of the bilateral negotiations when he arrives in New Delhi next month.



The new framework will replace the existing agreement of June 2005. Officials on both sides have confirmed to The Hindu that the agreement is “all but done” and awaits a final clearance.



The new defence framework will outline a series of exchanges between Indian and U.S. officials, including regular meetings between service and non-service defence personnel, the updated ‘Defence Trade and Technological Initiative,’ upgraded military and naval exercises, as well as ‘knowledge partnerships’ between the National Defence universities in both countries.



The signing of the framework, along with the visit of the first U.S. President to be chief guest at India’s Republic Day ceremony, will be a significant symbol of growing Indo-U.S. defence ties.







Pentagon teams, including State Department officials dealing with the defence relationship, have been visiting New Delhi for the past few weeks. On Saturday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal will join other officials for the “India-U.S.-Japan” trilateral talks as part of the “Asia dialogue” that has been going on all week.



Sources said Australia has formally requested a “quadrilateral dialogue” and also wants to join the Indo-U.S. ‘Malabar’ naval exercises annually, along with Japan. The request was reportedly made during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in November and the issue may raise “tripwires over the China factor”, according to some officials.



According to sources, U.S. and Indian officials are also discussing the announcement of one or two projects under the ‘Defence Trade and Technological Initiative’ (DTTI), which they hope to pitch as a part of the government’s “make in India” initiative.



While officials wouldn’t confirm which projects will be picked, they pointed to aircraft components and helicopter parts jointly produced by U.S. companies like Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky and the Tatas as the way forward.



An earlier U.S. proposal to produce Javelin anti-tank missiles in India had failed as India chose the Israeli “Spike” missiles instead. However, U.S. interlocutors have pointed to the proposal as an example of how America is now offering India “exclusive” deals they haven’t offered other countries.



“We want to move beyond a buyer-seller relationship, towards one of co-development and co-production, where both our nations will benefit,” said Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Puneet Talwar, who visited Delhi earlier this month to take the negotiations forward.

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Printable version | May 22, 2020 11:09:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/obama-visit-to-launch-new-indous-defence-agenda/article6708907.ece

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