The US House of Representatives has passed a $621.5 billion defence policy bill that proposes advancing defence cooperation with India.
An amendment in this regard, moved by Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera, was adopted by a voice vote by the House as part of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018, beginning October 1 this year.
The amendment passed by the House needs the Secretary of Defence in consultation with the Secretary of State, to develop a strategy for advancing defence cooperation between the US and India within 180 days, according toThe Hindu.
“The United States is the world’s oldest democracy and India is the world’s largest democracy. It is vitally important to develop a strategy that advances defence cooperation between our two nations,” said Bera.
“I am grateful this amendment [is] passed and look forward to the Defence Department’s strategy that addresses critical issues like common security challenges, the role of partners and allies, and areas for collaboration in science and technology,” said the Indian-American Congressman.
“Cooperation between the US and India enhances our own defence and our ability to meet the evolving security challenges of the 21st century,” Bera added.
The NDAA needs to be passed by the US Senate before it can be sent to the White House for the US President Donald Trump to sign it into law. The bill asks the US State Department and the Pentagon to devise a strategy that addresses common security challenges, the role of US partners and allies in India-US defence relationship, and the role of the defence technology and trade initiative.
It also asks them to address how to advance the communications interoperability and security memorandum of agreement and the basic exchange and cooperation agreement for geospatial cooperation, explained the report.
The previous NDAA-2017 had designated India as a major defence partner, which brings India at par with closest American partners in terms of defence trade and technology transfer.
The US House of Representatives also voted for three legislative amendments to impose tougher conditions for reimbursement of defence funding to Pakistan, adding a caveat that Islamabad should make satisfactory progress in the fight against terrorism.