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Big boost to Indo-US ties PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 April 2016 03:52
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Anup's edit

 

Will also help check China’s rising aggression

 

Giving a shot in the arm to defence and strategic relations with the US, the Modi government has agreed to conclude a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)—one of the three agreements—that had been hanging fire with the UPA government since 2006. The India-specific LEMOA will allow Indian and American military units to use facilities in each others’ bases for re-fuelling and berthing of aircraft and warships subject to mutual agreement in each instance, on a reimbursable basis. During the 1991 Gulf War, the Chandrasekhar government had for a brief while allowed US military aircraft to refuel in Mumbai on their way to Operation Desert Storm—this is not a new thing. But while that was one-off and revoked quickly, this time round it is a formal agreement. The agreement, though, does not entail stationing of any US troops in India as defence minister Manohar Parrikar pointed out. While the agreement is reciprocal, one needs to keep in mind the dynamics between a global power and an aspiring regional power. Of the two other agreements, the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA), that are being discussed, CISMOA that involves deploying encrypted communications equipment is reportedly close to finalisation, but not much headway seems to have been made on BECA.

What is, however, left unsaid in the discussions between defence minister Manohar Parikkar and US defence secretary Ashton Carter is that the agreement would be a means to ensure that India emerges a counter-balance to the rising China show in the Asia-Pacific region. That is happening primarily due to the aggressive stand that China has taken on the South China Sea—the two ministers have specifically talked of freedom of navigation and flight in the region, including the South China Sea. Apart from putting some degree of pressure on China, the two countries have expanded the scope of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative by announcing joint development of two projects over and above the six that are already under way. The much-delayed agreement could pave the way for closer collaboration with the US in the defence arena. So long as the agreement ensures that there are no American boots on the ground in India for any extended period of time, it is difficult to see how the Opposition parties can make a big thing out of it either. For an aspiring regional power, this is a big step forward and part of the process that began, but then got stuck, with the Indo-US nuclear accord.

 

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