Trump India visit: US, India agree to jointly develop arms

The joint statement noted the sale of advanced military helicopters to the Indian forces. With India keen on the joint production of weapon systems, President Trump pledged to support the transfer of advanced military technology. India will be giv...

AFP
NEW DELHI: India and the US pledged to deepen defence and security cooperation by collaborating on the co-development and production of advanced military systems besides pushing ahead with a comprehensive global strategic partnership anchored in mutual trust and shared interests.

A joint vision statement after bilateral meetings between PM Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump spelt out the way ahead to scale up relations in trade, security, technology sharing, regional stability and tackling new challenges such as the Covid-19 outbreak.

The two nations focused on taking forward the strategic partnership with closer cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and increased defence ties, beyond a buyer-seller relationship.


The joint statement, in particular, mentioned closer collaboration on “co-development and coproduction of advanced defence components, equipment and platforms and partnership between their defence industries”.

Transfer of Advanced Military Technology
The joint statement also noted the sale of advanced military helicopters to the Indian forces.

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With India keen on the joint production of weapon systems, President Trump pledged to support the transfer of advanced military technology. India will be given the highest consideration when it comes to technology transfer, he said.

India and the US said there was strategic convergence in the Indo-Pacific region with support for safety and freedom of navigation. Trump appreciated New Delhi’s role as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean Region. The two leaders also supported the early conclusion of agreements enabling defence cooperation, including the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement that will give India access to advanced geolocation data.

After bilateral discussions that lasted more than five hours, the leaders said they made “tremendous progress” in negotiations and were advancing toward giving legal shape to a high-profile trade deal. Negotiations will start in the near future on the “big trade deal”, which officials said, would be much higher than current levels in value terms and involve technology sharing on a bilateral basis.

Trade Talks
“As far as bilateral trade is concerned, there have been positive talks between our commerce ministers,” Modi said after the talks. “President Trump and I have agreed today that the understanding that has been reached between our commerce ministers lets our teams make it legal. We have also agreed to start negotiations for a big trade deal.”
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The US President echoed this, saying that progress had been made.

“Our teams have made tremendous progress on a comprehensive trade agreement and I’m optimistic we can reach a deal that will be of great importance to both countries,” he said.
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The US President also mentioned the Quad initiative in his remarks, saying that it was being revitalised with increased cooperation among the US, India, Australia and Japan.

“Since I took office, we have held the first Quad ministerial meeting… and expanded cooperation on counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and maritime security to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said.

Trump made a special mention of the 5G telecom network issue as well, highlighting the need for transparency without naming China.

“During our visit, we discussed the importance of a secure 5G wireless network and the need for this emerging technology to be a tool for freedom, progress, prosperity — not to do anything where it could be even conceived as a conduit for suppression and censorship,” he said.

While the joint statement did not specifically mention 5G, it emphasised that there was agreement the internet needs to be open and secure.

On the trade front, President Trump announced that Exxon-Mobil had signed a deal to improve India’s natural gas distribution network “so that the US can export even more LNG (liquefied natural gas) to India” and said that the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will be establishing a permanent office in India.

Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the corporation would start by making “$600 million available in terms of concessional financing”.

Energy Cooperation
Energy cooperation was described as a major takeaway from the visit, with the two sides agreeing to expand linkages with an increased engagement between industry and other stakeholders. The two leaders “encouraged the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd and Westinghouse Electric Co to finalise the techno-commercial offer for the construction of six nuclear reactors in India at the earliest date”.

Modi said energy cooperation was on the upswing and that mutual investments had increased.

“Our strategic energy partnership established shortly before is becoming stronger. And mutual investment in this area has increased… Be it renewable energy or nuclear energy, our cooperation is getting new energy,” the PM said.

At the global level, the US reaffirmed its support for India’s permanent membership of a reformed UN Security Council and entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group without delay. Talks also revolved around Afghanistan with President Trump welcoming India’s role in providing development and security assistance.

A strong line was taken on Pakistan with the two leaders condemning cross-border terrorism and calling on Islamabad to ensure that its territory was not used to launch terror attacks.
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