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US pledges to give India advanced US military technology

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Donald J. Trump at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Photo: MEA/PTI

NEW DELHI (PTI): India and the US have finalised defence deals worth USD 3 billion under which 30 military helicopters will be procured from two American defence majors for Indian armed forces.

The announcement on the deals were made by US President Donald Trump after his wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A joint statement on Tuesday said Trump noted that a strong and capable Indian military supports peace, stability, and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and reaffirmed his pledge to support the transfer to India of advanced US military technology.

Talking about convergence of interests between the two countries, Modi said he and Trump have decided to raise the Indo-US ties to the level of a comprehensive global strategic partnership.

Under a USD 2.6 billion deal, India will buy 24 MH-60 Romeo helicopters from Lockheed Martin for the Indian Navy.

Another contract to acquire six AH-64E Apache helicopters for USD 800 million from aerospace giant Boeing has also been sealed.

"We expanded our defence cooperation with agreements for India to purchase more than USD 3 billion of advanced American military equipment, including Apache and MH-60 Romeo helicopters -- the finest in the world," Trump said in his media statement.

"These deals will enhance our joint defence capabilities as our militaries continue to train and operate side-by-side," the US president said.

On procurement of MH-60R naval and AH-64E Apache helicopters, the joint statement said their capabilities will advance shared security interests.

"As India works to acquire new defence capabilities, President Trump reaffirmed India's status as a Major Defense Partner affording it the highest consideration for procurement and technology transfer purposes," it said.

"The leaders looked forward to early conclusion of defence cooperation enabling agreements including Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement," the joint statement said.

The two leaders also resolved to enhance security of their homelands through cooperation and to jointly fight international crimes like human trafficking, terrorism and violent extremism and crimes in cyberspace.

"They welcomed the decision by the US Department of Homeland Security and India's Ministry of Home Affairs to reinvigorate the Homeland Security Dialogue," the statement said.

"As a demonstration of their shared commitment to combatting the threat that illicit drugs pose to their citizens, they announced their intent to establish a new Counter-Narcotics Working Group between their respective law enforcement agencies," it said.

Defence and security ties between India and the US have been on an upswing in the last six years. The bilateral defence trade touched USD 18 billion mark in 2019, reflecting growing defence cooperation between the two sides.

Both sides have also been pushing for joint venture and collaboration between private sectors of the two countries in defence manufacturing.

In June 2016, the US had designated India a "Major Defence Partner," intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with New Delhi to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.

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