India, US agree to boost defence cooperation

New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS): India and the US Friday agreed to boost defence cooperation, including taking steps for a new defence agreement and also take the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative forward.

In talks between visiting US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Defence and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the two sides discussed their bilateral defence ties and agreed to "further enhance bilateral defence cooperation, especially in technology and discussed ways for strengthening this partnership".

Jaitley stressed on indigenisation of the Indian defence industries, a point Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emphasised.

Jaitley said: "The development of our own indigenous capabilities is a major objective that guides our present policies.

"In this direction, we have taken steps to raise the FDI cap in the defence sector.

"We look forward to work closely with the US in this regard," he said.

The union cabinet Wednesday approved a proposal to raise foreign direct investment (FDI) in the defence sector to 49 percent from the present 26 percent.

"With co-development and co-production of defence products in mind, India and the US Friday agreed to take the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) forward," said a defence ministry statement.

"The contact person from the Indian side will be the secretary, Department of Defence Production and the US will be represented by the under secretary for acquisition, technology and licensing at the Pentagon," it said.

The DTTI was established in June 2012 to cut through any bureaucratic red tape that impeded the US-India defence relationship.

"The two sides also decided to take steps for the extension of the New Framework for the United States-India Defence relationship, well before it expires in July 2015," the statement said.

The current defence agreement was signed in Washington by then defence minister Pranab Mukherjee June 28, 2005.

Hagel invited Jaitley to visit the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Department of Defence, in October during the latter's visit to Washington to attend the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank. Jaitley has accepted the invitation.

Hagel also laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti. He was presented an Inter-Services Guard of Honour in the forecourt of South Block in the afternoon, when he arrived for the talks.


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