US, India Sign Defense Pact
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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