India/USA – Panetta To Push For India-US Strategic Partnership

To give a big push to rapid transformation of the US-India defence relationship into a strategic partnership, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta is coming to New Delhi on a two-day visit beginning Wednesday.


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Mr Panetta’s visit to India, his first as defence secretary, comes just a week before the India-US strategic dialogue is slated to be held in Washington.

Mr Panetta will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A. K. Antony and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon during his visit.

In an apparent bid to build up trust, the US has recently removed laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from the entity list, thereby allowing the DRDO to freely procure sensitive technologies from Washington.

The US defence establishment is eager to partner with India and has proposed closer operational engagement with the Indian military.

There will be fresh rounds of discussions on basic defence agreements namely-the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA). Both the sides have already signed the end user agreement some time ago, under which US may carry out verification of it’s weapon systems supplied to India.

India’s defence trade with the US is increasingly on the rise as India’s spending power rises and openly competes with China on the north-east borders and the South China sea. New Delhi has signed more than 20 deals worth over $10 billion in the past one decade. These include amphibious transport ship INS Jalashwa, UH-3H helicopter, C-130J transport aircraft, P-8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft , Harpoon Block-II anti-ship missiles and C-17 Globemaster airlift aircraft.

The government has recently cleared procurement of 145 ultra-light howitzers worth 647 million dollars for deployment on the China border, while negotiations are said to be in the final stage for acquiring six more C-130J, four more P-8I aircraft, Javelin anti-tank guided missiles, Jaguar aircraft engine upgrades and AH-64D attack helicopters.


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