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India, UK resolve to broaden defence and security cooperation

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NEW DELHI (PTI): India and Britain on Thursday agreed to deepen their bilateral defence engagement in an array of areas including in counter-terror cooperation, maritime security and co-development of military hardware.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and Britain's Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon held extensive talks during which they also agreed to work closely on eliminating the scourge of international terrorism.

The two sides set out a "shared vision" for the India-UK defence partnership and this enduring defence partnership will encompass not only cooperation in defence industry but also stronger military to military engagement, a joint statement issued after the delegation-level talks said.

While acknowledging the progress being made, the two Ministers recognised the potential for further cooperation in defence manufacturing between the UK and Indian companies under the 'Make in India' framework, it said.

Jaitley and Sir Michael also decided to explore establishing a secure communications method in order to share classified material. The two countries will also consider upgrading their bilateral general security arrangement.

In the meeting, Jaitley welcomed the UK's interest in manufacturing in India as evidenced through recent announcements including the MoU between Bharat Dynamics Ltd and Thales UK on technology transfer opportunities for missile systems and efforts to develop an Advanced Hawk jet trainer jointly by the BAE Systems and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

The two Ministers also agreed to extend the current Defence Equipment Cooperation MOU and work towards early completion of an expanded MOU that will provide a platform for the UK and Indian industries to collaborate on and support transfer of technology.

"The renewed engagement will place capability and technology development at its core and seek to harness the complementary strengths of both nations in defence manufacturing and use the combined strengths of their respective private and public sectors to develop defence solutions for use in both home and shared export markets," said the statement.

The Ministers agreed to further strengthen their naval and maritime interactions, including enhanced Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) through the bilateral technical agreement to exchange information to track terrorist and pirate vessels.

The two sides also agreed to build a range of "capability partnerships" focusing on varied aspects of military effectiveness such as specialised training and exchange of best practices in areas of counter terrorism, counter improvised explosive devices (CIED), maritime security and shipbuilding.

"The two Ministers welcomed measures to ensure life cycle support and sustenance of UK-origin defence platforms used by India, which may include setting up joint ventures and other collaborative arrangements," said the statement.

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