India to buy U.S. defense tech under major security pact

India to buy U.S. defense tech under major security pact

Roemer, who was a top U.S. diplomat in the previous Obama administration, said it is a telling sign of how little the Trump administration has prioritised India that this critical relationship, where both sides stand to heavily benefit, is not moving steadily forward. She invited United States companies to become active partners in India's efforts to promote the local defence industry.

Pompeo and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met separately Thursday before joining top defense officials for talks.

The drills would be a first of sorts - the two countries' forces have not previously trained simultaneously in the air, on the land and at sea.

"We have chose to carry out for the first time a tri-services joint exercise with the United States off the eastern coast of India in 2019", Sitharaman said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis held long-delayed talks on Thursday with top Indian officials, looking to shore up the alliance with one of Washington's top regional partners.

"That vote and the subsequent section 123 civil nuclear agreement opened a path for our strategic relations to grow, bolster defence and commercial cooperation and expanded our people-to-people ties", Pompeo said.

The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) also will allow New Delhi to buy advanced USA military hardware, and give India access to a joint communication network linking the United States and Indian armed forces.

Known as COMCASA, this deal will allow the two countries to exchange sensitive military information quickly and securely.

India is also seeking to avoid U.S. sanctions on those who do business with Russia's military and intelligence sectors. The two sides said they looked forward to full implementation of the civil nuclear energy partnership and collaboration between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Westinghouse electric Company for setting up six nuclear power plants in India.

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There are sticking points, however, including the purchase of the Russian S-400 ground-to-air missile system, which could trigger United States sanctions on India.

The United States is also pushing countries to halt oil imports from Iran after U.S President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers that was meant to stall Tehran's developing nuclear capabilities.

Russian military hardware accounted for 62 percent of India's total weapons imports during the past five years, the Stockholm Peace Research Institute said in a report this year.

India already has bought US Apache attack helicopters and other gear, and is negotiating to buy armed drones.

"They will certainly come up, but I don't think they'll be the primary focus of what it is we're trying to accomplish here", Pompeo said on the sanctions earlier this week.

Pompeo denied he had anything to do with the letter.

The Indian side is understood to have explained how important Iran was for India for meeting its oil and energy needs and its proposed deal with Russian Federation for purchasing S-400 Triumph missile defence systems that could attract sanctions against Indian entities under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

India however is highly reliant on Iranian crude imports.

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