WASHINGTON: In a major boost to bilateral strategic ties, India and the US have signed a crucial logistics defence pact that will enable their militaries to use each other's assets and bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, making joint operations more efficient.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter signed the 'Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement' (LEMOA) and said it will facilitate opportunities for "practical engagement and exchange".
LEMOA facilitates the provision of logistical support, supplies and services between the US and Indian militaries on a reimbursable basis and provides a framework to govern them.
This may include food, water, billeting, transportation, petroleum, oils, lubricants, clothing, medical services, spare parts and components, repair and maintenance services, training services, and other logistical items and services.
"They agreed on the importance (that) this framework will provide to facilitate innovative and advanced opportunities in defence technology and trade cooperation. To this end, the US has agreed to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with its closest allies and partners," said a joint statement after the pact was signed.
According to the statement, the defence ties between the two countries is based on their "shared values and interests," and their "abiding commitment to global peace and security".
Parrikar, at a joint news conference with Carter after the two leaders held talks at the Pentagon yesterday, made it clear that "there is no provision for any base or any sort of activities to set up a base in India."
"It (LEMOA) doesn't have anything to do with the setting up of base. It's basically logistics support to each other's fleet, like supply of fuel, supply of many other things which are required for joint operations, humanitarian assistance and many other relief operations.
"So, it basically will ensure that both navies can be supportive of each other in the joint venture operations we do, exercises we do," Parrikar told reporters.
LEMOA is a very substantial enabler of the two countries to work together, the US Defence Secretary said.
Carter said the agreement would make joint operations between their militaries logistically easier and more efficient.
"What it does is make possible and make easier operating together when we choose to. It doesn't by itself -- those agreements -- those are the things that the two governments would have to agree on a case by case basis. But when they do agree, this is an agreement that makes it all go so much more smoothly and efficiently," Carter explained.
"It is fully mutual. In other words, we grant one another completely equal access and ease under this agreement. It's not a basing agreement of any kind, but it does make the logistics of joint operations so much easier and so much more efficient," he said.
Parrikar also indicated that India is not in a hurry to sign two other foundational agreements which America has been pushing for the past several years.