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Ind, US likely to sign defence pact during Obama trip: Def min

NEW DELHI (PTI): India and US are likely to sign their new 10-year defence framework agreement during the visit to the country of President Barack Obama later this month, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday.

He added that the strengthening of the existing framework and enhancement of its scope was going to be "definitely beneficial" for India.

"This (the signing of the agreement) is one of the possibilities... These are issues which are in the spectrum, or horizon," Parrikar told Karan Thapar on his show, 'To the Point', on the Headlines Today channel.

However, the minister stated that the issue would be decided by the Prime Minister's Office. The US President would be visiting the country later this month to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade here.

Asked if he welcomes such a framework, Parrikar said, "I think strengthening our ties with US, with the already existing framework enhancing its scope, is definitely beneficial to the country."

He said technology transfer initiatives and trade can be important areas of the new framework.

Parrikar pointed out that the focus would not be on procurement but on joint development of technology and technology transfer.

"There is already existing technology and trade (cooperation) which can be expanded," he said.

On a query about enhancing joint military exercises, Parrikar said it was already going on and that "enhancing it is not a big problem".

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US last September, both countries had agreed in principle to extend their defence agreement for another 10 years, which will take forward the cooperation between the two in the crucial area.

The framework agreement, which expires this year, was signed in the US in 2005 by the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his US counterpart in the previous George W. Bush admininstration, Donald Rumsfeld.

The new framework is likely to enhance the bilateral defence partnership by stepping up joint military exercises and through more in-depth intelligence-sharing, maritime security, etc.

It will also include a drive against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

But the most-significant aspect would be the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) -- aimed at enhancing the ones existing under the Defence Policy Group, which lay out the path for future defence cooperation.

The US is pushing for what it calls "transformative defence technologies" for co-development and co-production with India under DTTI, which could become the hallmark of the Modi government's 'Make in India' initiative.


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