India, US sign major defence pact

India and the United States signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum Of Agreement (LEMOA) in Washington DC, on Monday. The agreement has been inked after almost a decade of negotiations between the two countries.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is on a three-day visit to the US from Monday. He met the US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter and other senior officials on the first day of his visit.

LEMOA is a facilitating agreement that establishes basic terms, conditions, and procedures for reciprocal provision of logistic support, supplies, and services between the armed forces of India and the United States, said an official release.

Logistic support, supplies, and services include food, water, billeting, transportation, petroleum, oils, lubricants, clothing, communication services, medical services, storage services, training services, spare parts and components, repair and maintenance services, calibration services, and port services. Reciprocal logistic support would be used exclusively during authorized port visits, joint exercises, joint training, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

Logistics support for any other cooperative efforts shall only be provided on a case-by-case basis through prior mutual consent of the two countries, consistent with their respective laws, regulations, and policies.

The provision of logistic support, supplies, and services from one party to the other would be in return for either cash payment or the reciprocal provision of logistic support, supplies, and services.

The agreement does not create any obligations on either party to carry out any joint activity. It does not provide for the establishment of any bases or basing arrangements.

It may be mentioned that the US has been insisting on closer military ties between the two biggest democracies but India has been reluctant and diffident.

The agreement will significantly enhance the operational capacity of the Indian armed forces, including in their response to humanitarian crises or disaster relief.

A joint India-US statement said, “Minister Parrikar and Secretary Carter discussed India’s ‘Major Defence Partner’ designation, announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in June 2016. They agreed on the importance this framework will provide to facilitate innovative and advanced opportunities in defence technology and trade cooperation. To this end, the United States has agreed to elevate defense trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with its closest allies and partners.”

Carter welcomed India’s membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and reaffirmed US support for India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the statement said.

Parrikar and Carter also welcomed the signing of LEMOA.