India terms as ‘pre-mature’ US Senate’s rejection of ‘strategic defence partner’ status

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018


India on Thursday tried to whitewash the US Senate’s rejection of granting it the status of a ‘global strategic and defence partner’, while adding that it was “premature” to ascertain the final outcome that was expected to boost weapons trade and technology transfer between the two countries.

“The preparation of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) by the US Senate in the US Congress involves approval of different versions in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and their reconciliation to evolve a single consensual text, which is again put to vote in both chambers. The 2017 NDAA is in the process of its formulation and it would be premature to speculate about its final content,” said Vikas Swarup, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs.

This comes a day after the US Senate did not give its approval for amending a Bill granting India a special status that would have promoted defence trade between the two countries and strengthened military ties.

“It may be noted that preparation of NDAA is a process distinct from the decision of the US government to recognise India as a major defence partner. This was an executive decision and already announced in the India-US Joint Statement of June 7. A number of Senators and Congressmen have moved proposals that only seek to reinforce this decision of the US government. It reflects the bipartisan support in the US Congress for stronger defence cooperation between India and the US,” Swarup added.

The amendment, which officially, recognises India as US’ strategic military ally, was passed by a voice vote in May. But it failed to be passed by the Upper House.

The amendment was moved by Congressman George Holding and was incorporated into the NDAA 2017 that was subsequently passed by the House of Representatives.

Barely a week ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed both Houses of the Senate and spoke about the US recognising India as a “major defence partner”, which was also highlighted in the joint statement issued after his meeting with US President Barack Obama.

The US Senate’s rejection is also being seen as a major setback for US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative. At present, US military exports to India stand at $10 billion.

Published on June 16, 2016

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