WASHINGTION: In his first opportunity to engage directly with the new leadership, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel will visit India next month to discuss bilateral defence and security ties with Indian officials.
"Only two months into Prime Minister Modi's tenure, already it looks like we will have a very busy year," Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Defence For South And Southeast Asia, Amy Searight said yesterday.
"Secretary Hagel will be travelling to India in early August to discuss bilateral defence ties with Indian officials," she said, adding that he would be accompanied by top Pentagon officials.
The trip will follow the State Department's Strategic Dialogue, scheduled for July 31 in New Delhi, and will be first opportunity to engage in a direct and meaningful way with India's new leadership on defence and security issues that matter to the both, she said.
Describing India as a regional and emerging global power as well as strategic partner with shared interests Amy said, "Defence relations continue to play a significant role in advancing the strategic partnership, and we continue to make progress towards advancing US-India defence cooperation to the point where it is both expected and routine across our multi-faceted relationship".
She said the US wanted India to have all the capabilities it needed to meet its security demands and the Obama Administration wants to be a strong partner in that effort.
"Our policy in this area has not changed and remains part of our broader re-balance to the region. We continue to maintain strong military-to-military ties and are building a growing record on defence trade. This partnership requires effort and persistence on both sides, and as we look ahead, we see that there are even more areas where the two of us can cooperate," she said.
One of the pillars of US effort to build a strategic partnership with India on defence issues is the US-India defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), she said, adding that under the auspices of DTTI, the US was ready to move forward on a number of efforts, from co-production / co-development proposals to procurement and sales.
"On the co-production/co-development side, we have continued to identify forward-leaning proposals from US industry for cooperative projects with India. Once the new government shows interest in the proposals already offered, we will follow up.
"Positive indications from the Indian side on these proposals would go a long way in helping us maintain the Initiative's momentum, but we realise that the new government – not even two months old – may take some time in responding," she said.
The Pentagon is looking forward to convening the Defence Policy Group (DPG) this year.
"The 2005 New Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship will be up for renewal in June 2015, and we are looking for opportunities to reinforce and potentially expand efforts under its guidelines.
"The Framework was a breakthrough document and laid out the bilateral defence cooperation structure we follow today. This year, we have an opportunity to review our progress and set goals for the coming decade on where we want to take the relationship next," She said.