Press Trust of India
New York, 1 October: Days after agreeing on joint development and production in the field of defence with the USA, India has said the first-of-its-kind of initiative with America will add “more muscle” to the bilateral strategic partnership but it is not at the expense of traditional friend Russia.
External affairs minister Salman Khurshid said the defence cooperation between India and the USA has been at a lower level despite the two countries having engagement in a wide range of areas and it will be upgraded by the Defence Declaration issued after meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama last week.
“I think, it gives major substance to our strategic partnership,” he told the PTI in an interview here about the decision under which the two countries will undertake joint development and production of defence equipment with transfer of technology from the US.
“It (joint defence declaration) gives more muscle (to India-US relationship), gives it more content, more strength and I think it gives it more traction,” said Mr Khurshid, who was part of the Indian delegation in the Summit meeting between Mr Singh and Mr Obama in Washington on 27 September.
Noting that there are many dimensions to the India-US strategic partnership, he said, “Nuclear co-operation is one major initiative. The defence co-operation which was substantive but at a lower level, has now been raised to a higher level, is another dimension of our strategic partnership.”
The decision came against the backdrop of America’s wish to “replicate” Russia in joint development of defence equipment with India like Brahmos missiles.
Asked whether this could create apprehensions among India’s old defence partners like Russia, Mr Khurshid asserted that this initiative with the USA is not at the expense of those already having ties in this area.