New Delhi: India and the US today agreed “in principle” on a logistics exchange deal to enable both militaries to use each other’s assets and bases for repair and the replenishment of supplies, an issue that did not find favour with the previous UPA government.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and visiting US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter made it clear that the agreement, to be signed in “weeks” or in the “coming months,” does not entail the deployment of American troops on Indian soil.
Both sides agreed to set up a new bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue between officials from their defence and foreign affairs ministries.
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The efforts to ramp up bilateral defence ties came as India and the US emphasised on the freedom of navigation and the need for an international-based order, in an apparent reference to China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.
Following the delegation-level talks at South Block, both countries also decided to enhance on-going navy-to-navy discussions to cover submarine-related issues.
The countries will also deepen cooperation in maritime awareness by finalising a ‘White Shipping’ agreement in the near future.
Carter said India and the US agreed to two new projects under the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative, which included a tactical biological detection unit.
On the growing Indo-US military exchanges, Parrikar said, “As our engagement deepens, we need to develop practical mechanisms to facilitate such exchanges. In this context, Secretary Carter and I agreed in principle to conclude a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in the coming months.”
LEMOA is a tweaked version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), which facilitates the provision of logistical support, supplies and services between the US military and the armed forces of partner countries on a reimbursable basis, and provides a framework that governs the exchange of logistics support, supplies and services.
Explaining the proposed agreement, Parrikar said it will enable India and the US to provide logistics and other support to each other whenever needed during operations like the humanitarian exercise done in wake of the Nepal earthquake.