US-India muscle up military ties despite not being treaty allies | India News
Unmistakable signs that defence cooperation between the two countries is being upgraded notwithstanding traditional US disquiet over New Delhi’s broad array of military hardware acquisition from other countries came in a statement in which President Biden pledged “unwavering commitment to India as a Major Defence Partner” including strengthening cooperation in advanced military technologies.
The statement specifically noted noted the recent project to co-develop air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or Drones) under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative, and encouraged more such joint efforts.
It called upon government and private stakeholders to use the existing ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship in defence industries for co-development, co-production and expanding mutual defence trade, a mechanism that would not only enable India to circumvent outright purchase, but also get around US legislative hurdles that are subject to domestic politics.
President Biden felt it would take two days of talks with Modi, rather than the 90 minutes they took, to cover the full gamut of shared interests, officials who briefed journalists on the talks said.
Biden is a self-confessed votary of the relationship who forecast in 2006 that US and India would share the world’s closest ties by 2020.
Following up on the talks and his invitation to vice-president Kamala Harris to visit India, Modi also extended an invitation to the US President to visit India. Subject to the pandemic waning, both visits are expected to take place within months.
Not that the talks were without wrinkles, mostly relating to trade.
Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla said the Prime Minister raised the issue of H-1B visas and the continuing impasse over a totalisation agreement, resolving which would enable India to recover billions of dollars that Indian professionals are forced to contribute and give up in taxes even when they don’t don’t intent to immigrate.
The two countries also strove to be on the same page in terrorism despite differing bilateral priorities with Pakistan, whose help the US still needs to extract its people and assets from Afghanistan.
Although the statement did not explicitly name Pakistan, the inference was obvious: it said the leaders reaffirmed their stand together in a shared fight against global terrorism and pledged to take concerted action against all terrorist groups, while calling for perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks to be brought to justice.
The statement said they also denounced any use of terrorist proxies and emphasized the importance of denying any logistical, financial or military support to terrorist groups which could be used to launch or plan terror attacks, while pledging to further strengthen counterterrorism cooperation, including in the areas of intelligence sharing, law enforcement cooperation, and developing counterterrorism technologies.
Pakistan has tried hard to counter its being cornered on terrorism by attacking purported right wing extremism of the BJP/RSS combine in India, but while there are domestic and global critics of New Delhi’s ruling dispensation — seen in sporadic demonstrations against Modi in Washington DC and NYC — there are no takers for the narrative in global diplomatic forums.
The Prime Minister’s fan club also turned up in both places for counter-demonstrations, transporting India’s contentious domestic politics offshore.