We won't offer things on a platter, US delegation tells India

A United States secretary-level delegation, while heaping praise on the Modi government for being quick in business and defence reforms, warned that it is not going to be easy for Indo-US joint projects to actually take off.

The delegation, which spoke to media on Thursday in the background of Aero India show at the Yelahanka airbase here, comprised Kenneth B Handelman, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, US Department of State, Alan R Shaffer, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, US Department of Defence, and Marcus Jadotte, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis, US Department of Commerce.

Handelman said: “There is the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) between the US and India which will act as a catalyst in improving US-India ties and co-operation on common projects. But let me also say that not everything will be positive, that it’s going to be hard for the joint work to actually take-off. We appreciate the DTTI, but its going to be hard.”

The warning came towards the end of his presentation, reminding India that it should not perhaps over-estimate itself and that not everything will be handed over on a platter. But Handelman was also direct about the improvement in governance in India: “What has happened in the last two months has not happened in the last two years. Decisions are being taken in months, if not weeks. We are seeing rapid change.”

The US officials said they were waiting to see what the elections in India brought forth, particularly in Delhi, to take things forward.

The senior US official said Modi’s speech at the Aero India inaugural conveyed clarity and had a vision. “What Modi said resonated with us. It is an important statement on regulatory reforms. There is effort to remove impediments to a good relationship. The two days at Aero India have been fantastic. We could meet scores of officials and company heads. It was terrific.”

Handelman though was cautious about hyping up Indo-US relationship. “We have proposed 17 projects on which we can do co-development and production. India has proposed six. Some have matured, but several others remain. We have to wait for ties to mature as we move forward under the DTTI. There are no foundational agreements but as and when the relationship matures, we will take up joint work.”

Senior US official Alan R Shaffer observed that there are differences in the ways in which defence industry in both countries are organised.

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