US plans to boost defence, economic ties with India

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Friday, February 25, 2011

WASHINGTON - The US plans to boost its ties with India in two key areas of defence and economic partnership as a follow up to President Barack Obama’s November visit to India, according to a senior administration official.

The United States plans to capitalise on the opportunities offered by the “notable results of the President’s trip” in the weeks and months to come, Geoffrey Pyatt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asia said Friday at the

Emerging India Summit at Emory University in Atlanta.

“The challenge now before us is to define an agenda for both governments that capitalises on what we have achieved and meets the ambitious vision agreed by” Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said speaking on “The Regional and Global Impact of the US-India Strategic Partnership”.

Describing defence cooperation as “a critical cornerstone of the bilateral relationship” Pyatt said with India expected to spend nearly $45 billion on military modernisation over the next five years, the US welcomed opportunities to offer India superior technology and further deepen their defence cooperation.

He noted two American aircraft, the F/A 18 Super Hornet and F-16IN Viper, are among the contenders in the competition to provide Indian Air Force 126 frontline Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft, or MMRCA.

“The US proposals will dramatically enhance India’s own aerospace industrial base and defence capabilities and demonstrate our commitment to share with India cutting edge technologies - including the only operationally-mature AESA radar,” Pyatt suggested.

The US was also actively working to elevate its government-to-government economic partnership with India to be commensurate with their robust global strategic partnership.

“The challenge for us in Washington and New Delhi is to keep pace with the ambition and velocity of our private sector colleagues in New York and Mumbai - or Ahmedabad and Atlanta!” Pyatt said citing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“US-India economic cooperation has been a driver of our transformed bilateral relationship, and in many ways is the

decisive factor behind India’s changing place in the international system,” he said.

“With the fulcrum of geopolitics shifting quickly to Asia, India plays an increasingly critical role in US strategy,” Pyatt said. “Indeed, amid the democratic transformation of Egypt and the continuing unrest in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen, India’s value as an anchor of democratic stability in the Indian Ocean region has only increased.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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