Saturday 29 October 2016

Shouldn't Let Redtape Limit Indo-US Defence Cooperation: Hagel

New Delhi

Having offered to jointly develop and produce the next generation 'Javelin' anti-tank guided missile to India, the US today said the two countries should not allow bureaucratic redtape to bound their defence cooperation.

Addressing a gathering here, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said America has proposed around a dozen proposals to India under Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) for manufacturing defence hardware together.

"This will help in expanding their regional security cooperation...We have offered to not only co-produce but also co-develop the next generation Javelin anti-tank guided missiles. This is an unprecedented offer," Hagel said.

Under the DTII, the two countries have agreed to jointly produce and develop defence systems and have appointed nodal officers for taking forward this initiative.

"For both our nations, the challenge is to seize the opportunities, those opportunities that are before us today. Bureaucratic redtape within our two governments must not limit our partnerships and initiatives," he said.

The Javelin missile co-develop offer from the US has been under consideration of the Indian defence establishment for a long time but due to reluctance of the American equipment manufacturers to share critical technology, the Army has not shown much interest in it.

The renewed offer is part of the American efforts to revitalise defence ties which have slowed down in the last two-three years.

The US Defence Secretary said the DTTI was also in line with the Indian plans to expand its defence industrial base, and added that the rise in FDI cap will also help in increasing defence cooperation between the two countries. 

Hagel said he will take a personal interest in pushing forward this initiative and US Under Secretary for Acquisition Frank Kendall will visit India by the end of this year.

He said the DTTI will help in India's plan to have self-sufficiency in defence sector and will create jobs in both India and the US as "it was a vehicle to take the defence ties between the two countries to a new stage".

Asked if the DTTI initiative will work, the topmost US defence official said if the leadership of the two countries is committed, it will definitely work.

Hagel said with a view to stress on the improved defence ties between the two countries, the US has also invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the American military headquarters in Pentagon during his proposed visit there in September end.

On the Indo-US cooperation in defence sector, Hagel said India has procured USD 9 billion worth equipment from the US in the last six-seven years and the militaries of the two countries hold a number of exercises every year.

The American Defence Secretary said the US can also learn a lot for India's experience in peacekeeping operations across the world especially Africa.

Asked about the role the US can play in resolving the middle-east crisis, Hagel said America cannot dictate terms to the people of that region, which was developing as a "dangerous" zone due to presence of groups such as the ISIL.

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