NEW DELHI (Agencies): India and the US announced progress on key defence deals and said they would expand their growing partnership in the face of geopolitical challenges as their top diplomats and senior ministers met yesterday.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi as part of their annual “2+2 Dialogue”, focused on the Indo-Pacific region.
The two countries which were once on opposite sides of the Cold War are now working on landmark deals including for the US to supply and manufacture engines for Indian fighter jets.
Indian Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane said that deal between the aerospace unit of General Electric and India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics was on track.
“We are finalising the commercial arrangements and the necessary legal requirements are being put in place,” he told reporters after the talks. A more than $3bn deal for India to buy 31 armed drones made by General Atomics is also being processed and India is waiting for the company to get US government clearances for the next steps, Aramane said.
Washington had offered several infantry combat vehicle systems and New Delhi has expressed interest, he added without giving details.
Indian media reports have said the Pentagon has offered the Stryker family of eight-wheeled armoured fighting vehicles produced by General Dynamic Land Systems and that New Delhi is interested in jointly manufacturing them in India.
Before the talks, Defence Secretary Austin said it was more important than ever that the world’s two largest democracies exchange views and find common goals “in the face of urgent global challenges”.
“We’re integrating our industrial bases, strengthening our inter-operability and sharing cutting-edge technology,” he said.
India-US relations have steadily grown stronger on several fronts in the last two decades but New Delhi has also carefully preserved long-standing relations with Russia, much to the frustration of the West amid the war in Ukraine.
“We’ve made impressive gains in building our major defence partnership over the past year and that will help us contribute even more together to the cause of peace and stability,” Austin added, saying their co-operation “stretches from the sea to space”.
India is part of the Quad alliance alongside the US, Australia and Japan, a grouping that positions itself as a bulwark against China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We are promoting a free and open, prosperous, secure and resilient Indo-Pacific,” Blinken said, highlighting the sharing of maritime satellite data that helped to “combat illegal fishing, piracy, and drug trafficking”.
His counterpart Jaishankar spoke of “developing our strategic partnership” and praised a “new chapter in our relationship” following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in June, and US President Joe Biden’s trip to Delhi for G20 talks in September.

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