Washington, Sep 28 (IANS) Describing defence relationship as a major pillar of India-US strategic partnership the two countries have agreed to identify specific cooperative and collaborative projects in advanced defence technologies and systems, within the next year.
The intent to pursue such collaboration as part of efforts "to work toward achieving the full vision of expanded defence cooperation set forth in the 2005 New Framework Agreement," was announced after Friday's summit between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama.
"Such opportunities will be pursued by both sides in accordance with their national policies and procedures, in a manner that would reflect the full potential of the relationship," said a US-India Joint Declaration on Defence
Cooperation issued after the summit.
Noting that India-US "defence cooperation and engagement has increased significantly over the past decade, in step with the overall deepening of India-US relations," the two leaders endorsed several general principles for fulfilling the 2005 vision.
Topping the list was the principle that the US and India "share common security interests and place each other at the same level as their closest partners."
"This principle will apply with respect to defence technology transfer, trade, research, co-development and co-production for defence articles and services, including the most advanced and sophisticated technology," the declaration said.
Even as the two countries are committed to protecting each other's sensitive technology and information, "they will work to improve licensing processes, and, where applicable, follow expedited license approval processes to facilitate this cooperation."
The US "continues to fully support India's full membership in the four international export control regimes, which would further facilitate technology sharing," the declaration said.
The two sides also agreed to "continue their efforts to strengthen mutual understanding of their respective procurement systems and approval processes, and to address process-related difficulties in defence trade, technology transfer, and collaboration."
A separate factsheet issued by the White House said "both governments are committed to reduce impediments, ease commercial transactions, and pursue co-production and co-development opportunities to expand this relationship."
Since launch of Commerce department's High Technology Cooperation Group in 2002, US strategic trade exports have increased significantly, exceeding $5.8 billion in 2012, it said noting only 0.02 percent of US exports to India require a license today, compared with 24 percent in 1999.
India-US defence trade has reached nearly $9 billion and US-sourced defence articles have enhanced the capabilities of the Indian armed forces, demonstrated by the use of C-130J and C-17 transport aircraft to support flood relief operations and Indian peacekeeping operations, the declaration said.
"US companies look forward to concluding additional transactions to bring new capabilities to India's services in the near future," it said noting "India is also the first nation to deploy the P8-I Poseidon, a state of the art maritime surveillance aircraft."
"US and Indian services participate in a range of bilateral exercises, including: "Malabar, "Yudh Abhyas", and "Red Flag".
India has also accepted an invitation to participate in the 2014 Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) in Hawaii, a multilateral exercise that is expected to involve nearly two dozen nations.
The US and India also discussed joint principles for bilateral cooperation on training peacekeepers and plan to conclude a memorandum of understanding between the US Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute and the
Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping India.
For six decades, India has been among the largest troop contributors to peacekeeping missions around the globe, and the US remains the largest financial supporter of UN peacekeeping, the Fact Sheet noted.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)