Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel's Visit to Boost India-US Strategic Ties

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Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel's Visit to Boost India-US Strategic Ties

File photo of US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel
Associated Press

New Delhi:  Withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, Iraq's descent in chaos, jointly developing and producing military hardware and exploring convergence of interests of India and America are high on the agenda of US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel, who reached India on Thursday for a three-day visit.

Mr Hagel is the second senior US official to visit India since Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister in May. Before leaving the US, Mr Hagel had said the country was looking for new partners and relationships in the Asia Pacific region.

He would meet Mr Modi, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday. During his talks with these leaders, Mr Hagel is expected to discuss the regional security situation including the fallout of the American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The US Secretary of Defence is also scheduled to meet Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who is also the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC), a panel comprising the chiefs of the Army, Navy and the Air Force.

Although there is a long list of military hardware that India intends to procure from the US, senior officials told NDTV the issue will not figure in this round of meetings. "The new government at the South Block and Washington will take stock of the existing relationship and explore ways to strengthen it. We do not see any deals being inked," an official told NDTV.

India plans to buy 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift choppers along with four P-8I anti-submarine warfare aircraft from the US. These purchases mooted during the UPA-11 regime are in the final stages and expected to be before the Cabinet soon.

In 2012, the US had changed its focus to Asia-Pacific region in a bid to counter China. And in the changed focus, the US sees India as a crucial partner.

Last year, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama took the relationship to the next level when the two leaders decided to move away from the buyer-seller relation to focus on the joint development and production of military technology.



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