The U.S. has recognized India as a “major defense partner”, a significant development which paves the way for the country to be treated at par with America’s closest allies for defense-related trade and technology transfer.
“Noting that the U.S.-India defense relationship can be an anchor of stability and given the increasingly strengthened cooperation in defense, the United States hereby recognizes India as a Major Defense Partner,” said a joint statement issued after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
According to the statement, under the major defense partner recognition, the U.S. will continue to work toward facilitating technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.
Meanwhile, the White House also said that the meeting between Obama and Modi resulted in progress on finalizing some key defense agreements between India and the U.S.
“I can tell you that there was important progress on finalizing agreements relating to defense logistics, sharing of maritime information, and even the movement of U.S. aircraft carriers in the region,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference.
The joint statement said, “The leaders reached an understanding under which India would receive license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies in conjunction with steps that India has committed to take to advance its export control objectives.”
In support of India’s Make in India initiative and to support the development of robust defense industries and their integration into the global supply chain, the statement said the U.S. will continue to facilitate the export of goods and technologies, consistent with U.S. law, for projects, programs and joint ventures in support of official U.S.-India defense cooperation.
Applauding the enhanced military to military cooperation between the two countries especially in joint exercises, training and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, Obama and Modi expressed their desire to explore agreements which would facilitate further expansion of bilateral defense cooperation in practical ways.
Officials from both sides said India and the U.S. have finalized the text of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA). It is likely to be signed soon, a senior administration official told reporters during a conference call. The decision was welcomed by Obama and Modi.
India and the U.S. also finalized text of an Information Exchange Annex under the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation.
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said India and the U.S. have reached an understanding to finalize the Framework for the U.S.-India Cyber Relationship.
According to the statement, the two leaders committed to enhance cyber collaboration on critical infrastructure, cyber crime and malicious cyber activity by state and non-state actors, capacity building and cyber security research and development and to continue discussions on all aspects of trade in technology and related services, including market access.