Washington: The US Senate has passed a legislative provision that brings India at par with America's NATO allies and countries like Japan, Australia, Israel and South Korea in a key move to increase defence partnership, including advanced technology transfer. The development comes amid a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump in Osaka and the visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to New Delhi.
The National Defense Authorisation Act or NDAA for the fiscal year 2020 which was passed by the US Senate last week, contained this proposal. Introduced by Senate India Caucus Co-Chair Senator John Cornyn with the support of Senate India Caucus Co-Chair Senator Mark Warner, the amendment provides for increased US-India defence cooperation in the Indian Ocean in the areas of humanitarian assistance, counter terrorism, counter-piracy and maritime security.
In recognition of the shared democratic values and commitment to free navigation, another suggestion in the budget document is to increase engagement with India in multilateral frameworks "to promote regional security and defend shared values and common interests in the rules-based order". It said the quadrilateral dialogue among the US, India, Japan and Australia should be enhanced.
The bill would be signed into law after both the chambers of the US Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate passes it. The House is expected to take up its version of the NDAA sometime in July before legislators adjourn for the month-long August recess on 29 July.
In a statement, the Hindu American Foundation commended Senators Cornyn and Warner for their efforts in advancing the US-India strategic partnership. “Elevating India to non-NATO status is vital, now more than ever, for the US, for India, and for the entire region,” said HAF managing director Samir Kalra.
"Whether we do that with free standing legislation or whether we do that with an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act matters, I think, very little. What matters is that we recognise the importance, in a tangible way, of the US-India alliance," Congressman Sherman said at the HAF Capitol Hill Reception last week.
The US recognised India as a "Major Defence Partner" in 2016, a designation that allows India to buy more advanced and sensitive technologies from America at par with that of the US' closest allies and partners, and ensures enduring cooperation into the future.