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Senators call for deeper Indo-US defence ties

Jul 21, 2012 07:14 IST

Top American Senators have asked the Pentagon to develop a closer defence relationship with India, while emphasising that it is in the interest of both the US and India to continue building a strategic and military culture of cooperation between the two countries.

Ahead of the India visit of Deputy Secretary of Defence Ashton B Carter, Senators John Cornyn and Mark Warner, told top Pentagon officials in a letter that they believed it was time to consider the potential for a US partnership with India to co-develop or co-produce military weapon systems.

Cornyn and Warner are the co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus. With 38 Senators, the Senate India Caucus is the largest country-specific caucuses in the United States Senate.

"We see the partnership between our two democracies as critical to the maintenance and expansion of a rules-based international system that promotes freedom, democracy, security, prosperity, and the rule of law in the 21st century," Cornyn and Warner wrote in the letter to Carter.

Pitching for stronger US-India defence ties.

The letter, written on Friday, was released to press.

"Recent US arms sales have benefited the US and India alike, increasing commonality of military equipment platforms, providing expanded opportunities to conduct joint military exercises, and contributing to security in the Indo-Pacific region," they wrote.

"With these interests in mind, and with the goal of further expanding US-India defence trade, we encourage you to actively engage with your Indian counterparts to develop ways to improve the compatibility of the defence acquisition systems of the United States and India," the top US lawmakers wrote.

The two Senators urged Carter to include in his discussions with Indian officials two important focus areas - ways to improve the compatibility of US and Indian defence acquisition systems and potential opportunities for co-development or co-production of defense equipment with India.

"As India undertakes its expansive military modernisation programme - projected to cost an estimated USD 80 billion by 2015 - numerous prospects exist for the US to further expand defence trade and cooperation with India," it said.

"As we know you agree, recent US arms sales have benefitted the US and India alike, increasing commonality of military equipment platforms, providing expanded opportunities to conduct joint military exercises, and contributing to security in the Indo-Pacific region," the Senators wrote.

"With these interests in mind, and with the goal of further expanding US-India defence trade, we encourage you to actively engage with your Indian counterparts to develop ways to improve the compatibility of the defence acquisition systems of the United States and India," they said.

"We appreciate the Senate India Caucus's support of our continued efforts to expand defense cooperation with India.

Carter's trip highlights our strong and sustained commitment to this issue," a Pentagon spokesperson Catherine Wilkinson, told PTI when asked about the letter.

PTI