Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and outgoing US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter finalised the “major defence partner” status to India which will fast-track cooperation and sharing of high-end American defence technology.
“Today our defence relationship takes a major step as we designate India as a major defence partner. It now needs to be formally passed by the two chambers of the Congress — the House of Representatives and Senate — before US President Barack Obama can sign it into law,” Carter said.
Both sides also vowed to expand the bilateral defence cooperation as Carter met Parrikar in Delhi.
“Today we finalised India’s designation as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ of the US. 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 US’s closest allies and partners, and ensures enduring cooperation in the future,” a joint statement after the meeting said.
Officials explained that details regarding US licensing rules among other have been finalised.
The statement added that both sides exchanged views on regional security issues including threat posed by terrorism.
“They agreed to continue further strengthening the bilateral counter terrorism cooperation and underlined the need to ensure that terror groups receive no patronage from any State,” it said.
Citing common values and shared desire for peace and prosperity in Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, the two leaders reflected on the convergence of interests that have driven the strategic and technological “handshakes” between both nations and led to historic progress in bilateral ties, the statement added.
It said that bilateral defence ties have in the recent years moved along a “remarkable upward trajectory”.
“Thank you my friend,” Carter told Parrikar as both met at the South Block.
Carter said that this is the seventh meeting that he was having with Parrikar. “He is the Defence Minister with whom I have met for the maximum number of times,” he said emphasising the importance that US puts on its ties with India.
Marked progress on agreements, including the signing of a Defence Framework Agreement in 2015, have laid a blueprint for collaboration between our defence establishments and enabled deeper cooperation, the statement said.
With regard to technology, both sides welcomed the tremendous progress achieved under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) and committed to explore new proposals and other innovative opportunities for co-production and co-development.
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.
(With inputs from PTI)