'Military cooperation key driver of Indo-US relations'

'Military cooperation key driver of Indo-US relations'

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the joint press conference, in New Delhi on Thursday, Sept 6, 2018. (PTI Photo)

Military cooperation between India and USA is a “key driver” in the bilateral strategic partnership between the two nations, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said here on Thursday.

“As Secretary (James) Mattis and I agreed during our brief interaction this morning, defence cooperation has one of the most significant dimensions of our relationship. It is now a key driver of our strategic partnership. India-US cooperation and the field of defence reflects the growing maturity of our partnership,” Sitharaman said at the maiden 2+2 dialogue with the top US leadership.

The Defence Minister asked American companies to take part in the two defence corridors that the central government has set up in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

“With the announcement of the US designating India as a major defence partner and the recent decision to elevate India to STA-1 (Strategic Trade Authorisation-1) status for export of advanced US items we’re hopeful that defence industry cooperation can also move forward and faster in terms of the other dimensions of the defence partnership,” Sitharaman said.

“India has introduced major reforms to promote defence manufacturing including the establishment of defence manufacturing corridor. I invite US companies to become active partners in this segment,” she said. Transfer of critical technologies is one of the main agenda of the first 2+2 dialogue between India and USA.

On joint training exercises between the two armed forces, Sitharaman said, “With each step that brings our defence forces, security entity to each other we add to the growing layers of mutual trust and confidence. Today India’s defence forces carry out more training and joint exercises with the United States than with any other partner.”

“We have acquired advanced defence platforms from the US. We’re partners in building defence capabilities in the broadest sense of the terms. India-US cooperation and the field of defence reflects the growing maturity of our partnership,” she added.