Washington: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's expected visit here next month, two top American senators have introduced a legislation which if passed by Congress would elevate the status of the Indo-US defence relationship on par with that of America's closest allies like NATO and Israel.
The US-India Defence Technology and Partnership Act was introduced in the Senate by Senators Mark Warner and John Cornyn - co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus - yesterday.
The legislation has been sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for necessary action.
The legislation, a similar version of the bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in March, institutionalises the US government's focus on the US-India security relationship while sending a powerful signal to India that the US is a reliable and dependable defence partner.
"This bill supports strengthening our bilateral relationship, particularly in defence, and bestows upon India the status it deserves as a partner in promoting security in Asia and around the world," Warner said in a statement issued by US India Business Council (USIBC) which applauded the bill.
As an important partner with a flourishing economy, India has huge potential as a market for US defence manufacturers, which support millions of American jobs, he said.
The bill puts India on par with America`s closest defence partners, including NATO member states and Israel, for the purpose of congressional defence sales notifications.
For the US, it encourages the executive branch to designate an official to focus on US-India defence cooperation, facilitate the transfer of defence technology and maintain a special office in the Pentagon dedicated exclusively to the US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
It urges the US government to enhance India's military capabilities in the context of combined military planning, and promote co-production and co-development opportunities.
For India, it encourages the government to authorise combined military planning with the US for missions of mutual interest such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter piracy, and maritime domain awareness.
"The commercial and security imperatives for a robust defence partnership between the US and India could not be clearer. Defence trade has risen from some USD 300 million to over USD 14 billion over the last 10 years and there is every reason to expect it to rise further. USIBC strongly supports this bill and encourages widespread support in the Senate," said USIBC president Mukesh Aghi.