Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India in January next year, India and the US will be looking to bolster their defence ties and to firm up joint projects for co-production and co-development of high-tech weapons systems.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Puneet Talwar will be holding wide-ranging interactions with senior officials of India’s defence ministry and foreign office in New Delhi December 1-2. The US delegation comprises senior officials from the State Department, Pentagon and the US Pacific Command.
Mr Talwar is the second Indian-American serving as assistant secretary in the state department after Nisha Desai Biswal, who is US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia.
The focus will be on identifying a wide array of projects for co-production and co-development in the defence sector, which fits in with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India’s initiative and his strategic intention to create an indigenous defence-military base. Currently, India is among the world’s largest arms importer, with military hardware imports accounting for over 90 per cent of its needs.
The talks in Delhi will seek to take forward defence collaboration, as outlined in the September 30 joint statement that flowed from the meeting between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister in Modi in Washington.
The Modi government’s decision to allow 49 per cent FDI in defence production has opened the doors for a proactive participation of US defence companies in new opportunities emerging in this crucial sector. The transfer of technologies by the US hold the key to taking up the defence partnership to the next level, say officials familiar with latest developments. The talks could see the two sides setting up of a Task Force to oversee implementation of the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) which will help clarify issues related to technology transfer.
The India-US political-military dialogue will seek to firm up deliverables in the defence sector during President Obama’s visit to New Delhi as the guest of honour at the Republic Day parade next year – the first time India has bestowed such an honour on a US president.
The India-US defence ties has seen a quantum jump, with defence trade surging to USD 10 billion in less than a decade.
The September 30 joint statement saw the two leaders underlining their resolve to scale up defence ties and reaffirming their commitment to “treat each other at the same level as their closest partners.”
As part of the reinvigorated defence ties, the US will assist in setting up India’s planned National Defence University.
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