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Washington: The Indo-US agreements on defence cooperation announced by the two countries "promises to open a new chapter" in bilateral military ties and marks an "important milestone" in their strategic partnership, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel on Sunday said.

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi today broke a seven-year-old logjam in operationalising their landmark civil nuclear deal besides deciding to jointly produce military hardware including advanced unmanned aerial vehicles during their talks in New Delhi.

Hagel said: "By finalising the renewal of our 10-year framework for the US-India defence relationship, we will continue to build on the growing momentum in our defence cooperation over the last decade."

"This renewed framework will support stronger military-to- military engagement, including deeper maritime cooperation and increased opportunities in technology and trade," Hagel said in a statement.

He said: "By establishing a new military education partnership, we will help shape the next generation of military leaders in both our nations, fostering relationships that will draw our defence establishments closer together for years to come."

He said the agreements "promises to open a new chapter" in bilateral military ties and marks an "important milestone" in the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Hagel said by agreeing under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative to focus on four "pathfinder" projects, form a working group to explore aircraft carrier technology sharing and design, and explore possible cooperation on development of jet engine technology, the two countries will begin to realise the enormous potential of the US-India defence industrial partnership.

"We have further strengthened this partnership with an agreement that will allow us to continue science and technology collaboration for the next 15 years," said the outgoing Defence Secretary, who visited India within the first 100 days of the Modi government.

"Taken together, the President's announcements signal a new depth and sophistication in our defence and security cooperation, ensuring that it continues to be one of the strongest pillars of our nations' broad strategic partnership - a partnership that will help forge security and stability in Asia and across the globe," Hagel said. PTI

At a joint appearance with Obama before the media in New Delhi, Modi said the two leaders have decided to take up their growing defence cooperation to a new level.

"We have agreed in principle to pursue co-development and co-production of specific advanced defence projects. This will help upgrade our domestic defence industry and expand the manufacturing sector in India," he said.

Echoing Modi, Obama said the two countries have agreed to deepen their defence and security cooperation.

"We have renewed the framework that guides our defence cooperation for another 10 years. And in a major step forward for our relationship, our Defence Technology and Trade Initiative will allow us to jointly develop and produce new defence technologies," Obama said.

In their joint statement, Modi and Obama acknowledged bilateral military ties as the foundation of the defence ties and encouraged their respective militaries to pursue additional opportunities for engagement through exercises, military personnel exchanges, and defence dialogues.

They also reiterated their commitment to upgrade their bilateral naval exercise MALABAR, according to the joint statement.


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