NEW DELHI - Amidst the controversy over India's Rafale fighter jet deal with France, US Ambassador to India Kenneth I. Juster on Wednesday stressed on the need for greater defence co-operation between India and the United States.
Speaking at an event in Kolkata, Juster said cooperation in the defence sector was a key pillar in the Indo-US strategic partnership.
"US defense companies are already investing in India, producing components for complex defence systems. Our Defence Technology and Trade initiative and the US designation of India as a major defence partner are designed to strengthen our defence cooperation, including opportunities in co-development and co-production," Juster said.
Describing India's defence needs as "vast", the diplomat claimed that the Trump administration was committed to enhancing India's security, and highlighted how the US could assist India's efforts to build its indigenous capabilities.
"We understand that India is projected to spend around 150 billion USD in this sector (defence) over the next 10-15 years, so the opportunity is enormous," the American diplomat claimed, adding that India's purchase of US defence equipments had touched nearly 15 billion USD in a decade.
Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reforms push, the ambassador stressed on the need for further opening the Indian economy.
"Accelerating the economic and regulatory reform process already begun by Prime Minister Modi will help ensure that India is seen as a increasingly efficient, transparent and well regulated market. Opening India's market further to US trade and investment will spur our collaboration on many emerging technologies that will drive and protect our economies, including those related to advanced manufacturing and cyber security," Juster said.