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US for stronger defence ties with India

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WASHINGTON (PTI): Saying that India's importance for the US would grow in the long-run, a Pentagon report has favoured a mutually beneficial defence relationship between the two countries.

The Pentagon is working towards a series of steps, including co-development of armaments, transfer of some of its most advanced technologies, to strengthen military to military co-operation between the US and India, it said in its one-of-its kind rare report on India submitted to the US Congress.

"Over the next five years, we will continue to build the support structures necessary to ensure the maturation of a robust and mutually beneficial defence relationship with India in the Asia-Pacific and globally," it said.

"We will advance the defence relationship by deepening people-to-people ties through continued military-to-military engagements, implementing agreed upon cooperation and pursuing new avenues of collaboration with particular emphasis on maritime security and counter-terrorism activities and expanding defense trade and armaments cooperation," the Pentagon said.

The nine-page report was submitted to the Congress as directed by the apex American legislative body in its latest budget passed this year.

"The Department of Defense delivered the US-India Security Cooperation Report, which was requested in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012," the Pentagon spokesman George Little said.

The one-time report provides a current status of US-India relations and outlines ways to enhance bilateral security cooperation in the future, Little said in a statement.

Asserting that it is in the US' interest to support India's rise through military-to-military ties, arms sales and exercises, the Congress in its annual budget for the fiscal 2012 had sought a report from Pentagon by November 1 on a five-year action plan to strengthen bilateral defense relations.

"It is in the national interest of the United States, through military-to-military relations, arms sales, bilateral and multilateral joint exercises and other means, to support India's rise and build a strategic and military culture of cooperation and interoperability between our two countries, in particular with regard to the Indo-Pacific region," the Congress had said.

The powerful Senate Armed Services Committee had said that it believed that a deepening global strategic partnership between the US and India would be critical to the maintenance and expansion of a rules-based international system that promotes freedom, democracy, security, prosperity and the rule of law in the 21st century.

In its report the Pentagon said the relationship between the US and India -- what the US President, Barack Obama, had called one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century -- is a priority for the US government and for the US Department of Defense.

"The United States and India are natural partners, destined to be closer because of shared interests and values and our mutual desire for a stable and secure world. A strong bilateral partnership is in US interests and benefits both countries," it said.

"We expect India's importance to US interests to grow in the long-run as India, a major regional and emerging global power, increasingly assumes roles commensurate with its position as a stakeholder and a leader in the international system," said the report.

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