Washington: A Congressional resolution aiming to bring India on par with America's Nato allies in terms of trade and technology transfer besides elevating its status in export of defence articles from the US has been introduced ahead of Defence Secretary Ashton Carter's visit to India.
Introduced by Congressman George Holding, Co-Chair of the House India Caucus, the US-India Defence Technology and Partnership Act (HR 4825) proposes to amends the Arms Export Control Action so as to formalise India's status for the purpose of congressional notifications as a major partner of equal status as America's treaty allies and closest partners.
"This legislation will cement the process that has already been made and will lay a foundation for future cooperation and growth," Holding told the US House of Representatives.
"This legislation will elevate India's status by shortening the time required for the notification of sale or export of defence articles from the United States to India. It will encourage more joint contingency planning and require the US government review and assess India's ability to execute military operations of mutual interest," Holding said.
Welcoming the resolution, introduced ahead of US Defence Secretary Carter's visit to India early next month, the US India Business Council (USIBC) said that it sent an important signal to the Indian defence establishment that today's political conditions are different from the past.
"This bill not only puts India on par with other Nato allies in terms of the notification period, it sends a clear signal to Washington and Delhi that defence cooperation should be a top priority for both governments," Holding said.
Defence trade between the US and India is one of the strongest areas of the bilateral economic relationship and has risen from some $300 million to over $14 billion over the last 10 years, said Mukesh Aghi, USIBC president.
Noting that together the US and India face a range of shared security challenges, Holding underlined the need to encourage deeper bilateral defence ties and closer cooperation.
"The US-India Defence Technology and Partnership Act will build upon the recent progress made to strengthen our strategic partnership by facilitating closer collaboration, promoting greater defence trade, and by elevating India's status," he said.
In his remarks, Holding also questioned the decision of the Obama Administration to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.
"What, I ask, is the benefit of the sale to our national security and the security of the region and our partners? This is one question, but the request to use taxpayer dollars to finance the sale of these F-16s to Pakistan is entirely another question," he asked.
"What has Pakistan actually done to deserve these fighter jets let alone financing from the United States taxpayers? Certainly not enough, in my view, as I firmly oppose the sale from start to finish," Holding said.