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American Forces Press Service

Carter Visit Underscores 'Robust and Deepening' U.S.-India Defense Relationship

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2016 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter's visit to India this week -- his fourth meeting with Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar within a year -- demonstrates the regular ministerial-level oversight of the robust and deepening bilateral defense relationship between the two nations, DoD officials said in a joint U.S.-Indian statement released today.

"The United States and India share a deep and abiding interest in global peace, prosperity and stability," the statement said. "Bilateral defense cooperation is a key component of the strategic partnership between India and the United States."

Carter travelled to Karwar, India, to visit the Indian naval base there and to tour the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier with Parrikar. The two leaders also visited the amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge, which was in Goa on a regularly scheduled port call.

New Delhi Meeting

Parrikar and Carter then met in New Delhi to review the steps taken to deepen bilateral defense ties since the signing of the new framework for the U.S.-India defense relationship last June, the statement said.

"They discussed the priorities for the coming year in defense ties," it said, "as well as specific steps both sides will take to pursue those priorities." These include expanding collaboration under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative; the Make in India efforts of India's government; new opportunities to deepen cooperation in maritime security and maritime domain awareness; military-to-military relations; the knowledge partnership in the field of defense; and regional and international security matters of mutual interest, the statement said.

The two leaders said they welcomed the efforts by the Indian and U.S. armed forces to further expand collaboration and to increase complexity in their military engagements and exercises, including developing plans for more advanced maritime exercises, the statement said.

Carter and Parrikar noted India's participation in this year's Rim of the Pacific multilateral naval exercise, the participation of the Indian air force in the multilateral Red Flag exercise in April and May in Alaska, and U.S. participation in the international fleet review of the Indian navy at Visakhapatnam in February.

"They expressed their desire to explore agreements which would facilitate further expansion of bilateral defense cooperation in practical ways," the statement said. "In this regard, they announced their in principle agreement to conclude a logistics exchange memorandum of agreement, and to continue working toward other facilitating agreements to enhance military cooperation and technology transfer."

Maritime Security

"In support of the India-U.S. Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region and the maritime security objectives therein, both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in the area of maritime security," the statement said. Carter and Parrikar reaffirmed their desire to expeditiously conclude a "white shipping" technical arrangement to improve data sharing on commercial shipping traffic and agreed to commence navy-to-navy discussions on submarine safety and anti-submarine warfare.

The two leaders also agreed to launch a bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue, co-chaired by officials at the joint secretary and assistant secretary level of the Indian Defense and External Affairs Ministries and the U.S. Defense and State Departments.

Also during their meeting, Carter and Parrikar reaffirmed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the region, including in the South China Sea, the statement said.

"They vowed their support for a rules-based order and regional security architecture conducive to peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean and emphasized their commitment to working together and with other nations to ensure the security and stability that have been beneficial to the Asia-Pacific for decades," it said.

The two leaders reviewed the progress and reiterated their commitment to pursue co-development and co-production of advanced defense articles under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative. In this context, they agreed to initiate two new pathfinder projects on digital helmet mounted displays and the joint biological tactical detection system.

Cutting-Edge Defense Technologies

Carter and Parrikar commended the ongoing discussions at the Jet Engine Technology Joint Working Group and the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation, the statement said.

The two leaders also agreed to work towards greater cooperation in the field of cutting-edge defense technologies, including deepening consultations on aircraft carrier design and operations and jet engine technology, it said, and they noted the understanding reached to conclude an information exchange annex to enhance data and information sharing specific to aircraft carriers.

"With the aim of encouraging greater participation of U.S. defense industries in the Make in India program," Parrikar informed Carter about the recently announced defense procurement policy and other reforms in the Indian defense sector, the statement said.

"Both sides agreed to encourage their respective defense industries to develop new partnerships in the pursuit of a range of cutting-edge projects," it said. And in support of Make in India, the United States shared for consideration of India's government two proposals to bolster India's suite of fighter aircraft, the statement said.

Carter and Parrikar "welcomed the finalization of four government-to-government project agreements in the area of science and technology cooperation: atmospheric sciences for high energy lasers, cognitive tools for target detection, small intelligent unmanned aerial systems, and blast and blunt traumatic brain injury," the statement said.

Before departing India, Carter will oversee a repatriation ceremony of U.S. World War II remains from India to the United States. The defense secretary thanked Parrikar and India for their support in facilitating the recovery effort.
India's government agreed to support America's commitment to bringing its fallen personnel home and providing their families the fullest possible accounting, and looks forward to further humanitarian missions of this kind over the next few years to return the remains of these U.S. heroes to their families, the statement said.

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