‘Unwavering’ US commitment for key defence ally India – Times of India

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WASHINGTON: Despite not being military allies by way of a treaty or pact, the US and India pushed ahead with strengthening defence ties in talks between President Joe Biden and PM Narendra Modi on Friday, describing their broad-based relationship as a “partnership for global good.”
Unmistakable signs that defence cooperation between the two countries is being upgraded notwithstanding traditional US disquiet over New Delhi’s broad array of military hardware acquisition from other nations came in a statement in which Biden pledged “unwavering commitment to India as a major defence partner”, including strengthening cooperation in advanced military technologies.
The statement specifically noted the recent project to co-develop air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative, and encouraged more such joint efforts. It called upon government and private stakeholders to use the existing ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship in defence industries for co-development, co-production and expanding mutual defence trade, a mechanism that would not only enable India to circumvent outright purchase, but also get around US legislative hurdles that are subject to domestic politics.
Officials said that Biden said it would need two days of talks with Modi, rather than the 90 minutes they took, to cover the full gamut of shared interests. Following up on the talks and his invitation to vice-president Kamala Harris to visit India, Modi also extended an invitation to the US President to visit India. Subject to the pandemic waning, both visits are expected to take place within months.
Not that the talks were without wrinkles, mostly relating to trade. Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla said Modi raised the issue of H-1b visas and the continuing impasse over a totalisation agreement, resolving which would enable India to recover billions of dollars that Indian professionals are forced to contribute and give up in taxes even when they don’t intent to immigrate.
Meanwhile, Biden reiterated US support for India’s permanent membership on a reformed UN Security Council and its entry into NSG, PTI reported. He also applauded India’s “strong leadership” during its UNSC Presidency in August 2021, as per the US-India joint leaders’ statement.
The two countries also strove to be on the same page in terrorism despite differing bilateral priorities with Pakistan, whose help the US needs to extract its people from Afghanistan. Although the statement didn’t explicitly name Pakistan, the inference was obvious: it said the leaders reaffirmed their stand together in a shared fight against global terrorism. They also pledged to further strengthen counterterrorism cooperation, including in the areas of intelligence sharing, law enforcement cooperation and developing counterterrorism technologies.





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