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. US, India Sign Defense Pact

Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee (L) is greeted by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield 28 June 2005 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The defense ministers of the United States and India signed a 10-year agreement 28 June 2005 paving the way for stepped up military ties, including joint weapons production and cooperation on missile defense. AFP Photo/Snapsindia/Mohammed Jaffer.
Washington (AFP) Jun 28, 2005
The defense ministers of the United States and India signed a 10-year agreement Tuesday paving the way for stepped up military ties, including joint weapons production and cooperation on missile defense, officials said.

It called for "an enhanced level of cooperation covering military to military relations as well as a defense industrial and technological relationship," a statement said following the signing by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee in Washington.

They agreed to set up a "defense procurement and production group" and sign deals to cooperate on military "research, development, testing and evaluation" as well as naval pilot training.

"Both sides agreed that US-India defense relations are an important pillar of their transforming bilateral relationship," the statement said.

The military pact came three months after the United States unveiled plans to help India become a "major world power in the 21st century."

Washington's move to boost relations between the world's oldest and largest democracies which were on the opposite sides in the Cold War was seen by analysts as part of a strategy to counter the growing influence of China, India's immediate neighbour.

Under the plans, Washington offered to step up a strategic dialogue with India to boost missile defense and other security initiatives as well as high-tech cooperation and expanded economic and energy cooperation.

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