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.

Source:
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