NATIONAL

India-U.S. focus on maritime security

India and the United States on Tuesday welcomed the progress in bilateral defence cooperation underscoring the engagement in maritime security with Washington welcoming New Delhi's decision to chair a plenary of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia next year.

In her opening remarks, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned that maritime security was an area of major concern, as both countries sought to protect sea lanes, combat piracy and defend freedom of navigation.

This also found reflection in the joint statement with both sides noting the importance of maritime security and agreeing to continue consultations on the issue with regard to the Indian Ocean region in existing fora, such as Defence Policy Group and its appropriate sub-groups.

This sector stands codified in the 2006 Indo-U.S. Framework for Maritime Security Cooperation and since then both countries have cooperated towards addressing Somalia-based piracy, disaster relief, illicit trafficking in weapons of mass destruction and enhancing maritime domain awareness.

The Group, which met in Washington earlier this year, is now scheduled to hold another meeting next year. At the end of the second round of bilateral strategic dialogue, both sides noted that India had procured defence equipment worth $8 billion (approx Rs. 37500 crore) over the last decade.

India and the United States noted in the joint statement “that these sales reflect strengthened cooperation” and affirmed their desire to strengthen cooperation through technology transfer, and joint research, development, and production of defence items.

Earlier this year, the United States had removed four Indian organisations, including the Defence Research Development Organisation, from the list of entities to which sale of high technology items was not permitted.

On defence technologies, Ms. Clinton said the U.S. expected to continue developing and selling the world's most competitive products. “We view these sales as [not only] important on their own terms, but also as a means to facilitate the work that the Indian and American militaries can do together — whether patrolling the seas or providing relief to the victims of natural disasters,” she said.

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