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US, India heading towards 'biggest collaboration' this century in defence: Rajnath

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during the 11th edition of DefExpo, India's biennial military exhibition that seeks to showcase the potential of the country to become a global defence manufacturing hub, in Lucknow. A PTI Photo

LUCKNOW (PTI): Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said India and the US are moving away from the traditional buyer-seller' arrangement in the defence sector, asserting that the relationship now could become the "biggest collaboration of this century".

Speaking at an event at DefExpo-2020 here on Thursday, Singh referred to an industrial security agreement signed during the "2+2 Dialogue" in December that allows the transfer of defence technology.

"The Indo-US relationship will move towards the collaboration approach from the traditional 'buyer-seller'. I am confident this relationship will be more dynamic and vibrant in the future," the minister said.

"The US is one of the largest defence exporters for India and the world. At the same time, the defence manufacturing sector in India is growing at a rapid pace, he said.

In such a situation, our collaboration can prove to be the biggest collaboration of this century," he added.

Assuring manufacturers that the government is reforming the defence sector, he urged them to take maximum advantage of this and invest in India.

The five-day expo was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. It is being attended by 38 defence ministers and top executives of 172 foreign defence majors and 856 Indian companies.

At another event, Rajnath Singh signalled India's readiness to significantly ramp up defence engagements with countries in Africa, a region where China has been aggressively expanding its military and economic clout.

Addressing the India-Africa Defence Ministers' Conclave, he said India is geared up to provide offshore patrol vessels, fast interceptor boats, night vision goggles, unmanned aerial vehicles, Dornier aircraft, and arms and ammunition to African countries.

Singh said India's development partnership with African nations will be guided by their priorities and capabilities.

It will also focus on combating terrorism, extremism and keeping the cyberspace safe and secure, he said.

It is for the first time that a conclave to explore defence cooperation with African nations has been organised as part of the DefExpo, India's biennial military exhibition.

Twelve defence ministers from the African continent were among the participants.

Singh also held talks with his Madagascar counterpart Lt Gen Rokotonirina Richard on a maritime security tie-up to increase India's defence presence in western Indian Ocean.

He also addressed a seminar on UP's defence manufacturing corridor.

The minister said Uttar Pradesh will play an important role in turning India into a five trillion dollar economy by 2024, a target mentioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

By 2030, India will be among the top three economies of the world. UP will have important role in it," he said.

Visiting the UP pavilion, he said investment opportunities would increase in Uttar Pradesh with the establishment of a defence corridor.

Chief Minister Adityanath too made a pitch for more investments.

Adityanath said the state has already prepared its defence manufacturing policy and has a large land bank.

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