India, U.S. talk defence partnership

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter in New Delhi on Thursday.— PHOTO: PTI  

India and the U.S. on Thursday finalised the specifications for designating India a ‘Major Defence Partner’ of the U.S.

This status puts India on a par with the closest allies and partners of the U.S.. The agreement was reached between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and U.S. Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter in Delhi.

India was accorded this status during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in June.

“The designation as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ is a status unique to India and institutionalises the progress made to facilitate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level at par with that of the United States’ closest allies and partners, and ensures enduring cooperation into the future,” a joint statement issued after the talks said.

The finalisation reached pertains to U.S. licensing rules and stipulations on which non-papers were exchanged by both sides. This status is bestowed upon the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) countries and the U.S. treaty allies such as Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan and South Korea.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Carter said this was his seventh meeting with Mr. Parrikar. “He is a Defence Minister with whom I have met the maximum number of times,” he said.

Both sides reviewed the progress in defence ties in recent years, and welcomed the “tremendous progress” achieved under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) intended to promote opportunities for co-production and co-development of weapon systems and platforms.

Boost for ‘Make in India’

“The DTTI will strengthen India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and both sides committed to convening all new DTTI working groups prior to the next DTTI Group meeting anticipated for February 2017,” the statement said.

In the past two years, some major agreements were signed, including the Defence Framework Agreement in 2015, which laid a blueprint for collaboration between the defence establishments and the logistics support agreement Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).

Both sides also exchanged views on regional security issues including the threat posed by terrorism and “underlined the need to ensure that terror groups receive no patronage from any State.”

Mr. Carter later called on Mr. Modi and briefed him on the progress in taking forward the decisions and understandings reached during his visit to the U.S. in June.

Mr. Modi appreciated the contribution made by Mr. Carter in strengthening the defence cooperation between India and the U.S.