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US defence bill provides for greater cooperation with India

15 July 2017

The US House of Representatives on Friday passed a $621.5 billion defence policy bill that also provides for advancing defence cooperation with India.

Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera moved an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018 in this regard, which was adopted by a voice vote by the House.

NDAA-2018, which was passed by the House 344-81, will come into force beginning 1 October this year.

The amendment to the bill requires the secretary of defence, in consultation with the secretary of state, to develop a strategy for advancing defence cooperation between the United States and India.

"The United States is the world's oldest democracy and India is the world's largest democracy. It is vitally important to develop a strategy that advances defence cooperation between our two nations," Bera said.

"I am grateful this amendment passed and look forward to the Defence Department's strategy that addresses critical issues like common security challenges, the role of partners and allies, and areas for collaboration in science and technology," he said.

"Cooperation between the US and India enhances our own defence and our ability to meet the evolving security challenges of the 21st century," Bera said.

NDAA needs to be passed by the Senate before it can be sent to the White House for the US President Donald Trump to sign into law.

The state department and the Pentagon would now have to work on a strategy that addresses common security challenges, the role of American partners and allies in India-US defence relationship, and role of the defence technology and trade initiative.

It also requires them to address issues related to advance the communications interoperability and security memorandum of agreement and the basic exchange and cooperation agreement for geospatial cooperation.

The Secretary of Defence and Secretary of State have 180 days to develop a strategy for advancing defence cooperation between the United States and India.

The previous NDAA-2017 had designated India as a major defence partner, which brings India at par with closest American partners in terms of defence trade and technology transfer.

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