DTTI a 'vehicle' for closer bilateral security ties: US

The US on Thursday termed the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) as a "vehicle" for closer bilateral security ties and stressed on the need for India to sign three pending "foundational agreements".

PTI| Updated: Feb 26, 2015, 19:32 PM IST

New Delhi: The US on Thursday termed the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) as a "vehicle" for closer bilateral security ties and stressed on the need for India to sign three pending "foundational agreements".

Even as its stressed that the agreements - CISMOA, LSA and BECA - are not under the umbrella of DTTI, the US said not signing of these pacts by India "are going to be an issue" at some point as both the countries work on high-end technology.

"I don't think there is a strong connection between the two (DTTI and the pacts)... They are not really under the umbrella of the DTTI," senior Pentagon official Frank Kendall told a select group of reporters here.

The three agreements have been pending for over five years and the US has been pushing for bringing them into force. Of these, Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Cooperation (BECA) enhance the capacity of military equipment already bought from the US.

The third agreement, Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) would enable cashless supplies to each other's armed forces on credit.

Kendall, US Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) and the Pentagon's point person on India-related defence issues, particularly on DTTI, held talks with the Indian government earlier in the day.

Even as he maintained that the three pacts, which the US describes as "foundational agreements", are not linked to DTTI, Kenneth Handelman, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Defence Trade Controls) in the State Department said they were necessary in the longer run.

He underlined that DTTI is a vehicle for much broader security relationship.

"DTTI has progressed in the absence of the foundational agreements... But at some point the foundational agreements are going to be an issue whether its LSA or CISMOA," he said.

Speaking to a news agency later, Handelman explained why India not signing on the agreements will be an issue.

"I certainly support what Mr Kendall said. The foundational agreements don't directly relate to what is being done on the DTTI right now," he said, adding that DTTI is intended to be a vehicle or mechanism through which both of our governments can explore a closer security relationship.

He said that if all goes well and both countries expand this relationship, that would entail joint production and development of higher military technology, the agreements would be handy.

"It is just an emblematic of a more mature security relationship," he said. 

Asked if there was any timeframe for signing of CISMOA, Beth McCormick, Director, Defence Technology Security Administration of the US government, said there was no schedule as of now.

"We would just suggest that it is one of the very important agreements... The CISMOA would be a very important document for us to sign in the future."

Meanwhile, sounding upbeat on DTTI, Kendall said he was not here as a salesman for US defence firms but as a supporter of a strong Indian military and a robust Indian defence industrial base.

He said the road to abundant partnership is not without its hurdles and that India and the US have had some "twists and turns" along the way.

"A clear eyed view of our past shows that Indian and American perceptions of international affairs have differed. Our national interests have not always overlapped. And, our domestic politics have not always promoted close defence cooperation," he said.

The senior Pentagon official said times have changed.

On the most important issues of today and tomorrow is that our interests increasingly overlap, he said, adding the political leadership of both countries see this opportunity and are committed to seizing the moment.

"Both our nations have bureaucracies that can be equal parts engines for change and impediments to progress. I am here again in India meeting with my counterparts to ensure our bureaucracies are responsive to the direction of our nations' leaders," he said.

Using the Hindi phrase "chalein saath saath", Kendall said the best way to enhance partnership is by building something together and sustaining cooperation over time.

"And through increased technology and trade cooperation, we can build great things together... Through senior level leadership and engagement, DTTI will help reduce bureaucratic obstacles, promotes collaborative technology exchange, and enables co-production and co-development of select defence systems," he said.

The Pentagon official underlined that DTTI isn't a treaty or a law.

"It is a flexible mechanism to ensure that senior leaders from our nations are persistently focused on the opportunities and challenges associated with growing our defence partnership in research, development and production," he said.

India and US have agreed on four "pathfinder projects" under DTTI.

These are next generation Raven Minis UAVs, roll on and roll off kits for C-130, mobile electric hybrid power source and Uniform Integrated Protection Ensemble Increment 2.

Both countries also agreed on a Working Group to explore aircraft carrier technology besides designing and development of jet engine technology.