US Senate votes to bolster defence ties with India

From Lalit K Jha

Washington: The US Senate has passed a legislative amendment as part of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) 2017 that proposes to bring defence sales with India at par with America’s close allies and NATO members.

The amendment ‘Defence and Security Co-operation with India’ was moved by the Illinois Senator Mark Kirk on May 25 and passed by the US Senate yesterday along with the National Defence Authorization Act-2017.

While the amendment was approved by a voice vote, NDAA- 2017 was passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 85-13.

“The Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Commerce, shall ensure that the authorisation of any proposed sale or export of defense articles, defense services, or technical data to India is treated in a manner similar to that of the US’ closest partners and allies, which include NATO members, Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Israel and New Zealand,” it says.

As per the amendment, the US President shall endeavor to further align laws, regulations, and systems within India and the US for the facilitation of defense trade and the protection of mutual security interests.

The President shall develop a plan for such facilitation and coordination efforts that identifies key priorities, any impediments, and the timeline for such efforts, it says.

If passed by the Congress, it would require the President to submit to the Congress a report detailing this coordination plan. The US House of Representatives has already passed a similar amendment attached to the NDAA-2017.

However, the House version of the amendment, which was passed by voice vote, which also calls for strengthening of India-US Defense ties, does not specifically mentions bringing the defence trade to that of a NATO ally.

The two versions of the bill would now have to be reconciled by both the Chambers of the Congress through conference. It is only after the common version of the bill is passed, President Barack Obama would sign that into law. PTI

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