Big US participation in Chennai DefExpo

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Chennai, April 9 (IANS) In a significant reflection of the US designating India as its Major Defence Partner, a large and diverse delegation from the US led by the country’s Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster will participate in India’s premier defence trade event to be held in Chennai later this month, it was announced on Monday.

“A large and diverse US delegation will attend DefExpo 2018, a key defence trade event in India and the region,” the US Consulate in Chennai said in a statement.

“The delegation will include active duty military officers, government officials, and industry executives – demonstrating the depth and breadth of the commitment of the US to the US-India Major Defence Partner relationship,” it stated.

“The US government delegation will be led by Kenneth I. Juster, US Ambassador to India, and Major General Bryan Suntheimer, Deputy Commanding General of US Army Pacific.”

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The 10th edition of defence manufacturing exhibition DefExpo will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 12.

DefExpo 2018 — being held around 35 km off Chennai — would be spread over 290,000 square feet area and also have a live demonstration area.

According to Defence Production Secretary Ajay Kumar, there are 154 foreign companies participating in the DefExpo this year.

“The US designation of India as a Major Defence Partner marked a milestone in US-India defence cooperation,” Juster said in the Consulate statement.

He said that US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Modi “are driving forward this Major Defence Partnership and our broader strategic relationship with a shared vision for peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region”.

During the visit of Modi to Washington in June 2016, the US recognized India as a Major Defence Partner, which commits the US to facilitate technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners, and industry collaboration for defence co-production and co-development.

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India and the US are part of the recently revived quad, that also includes Australia and Japan, that seeks to work for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

According to Monday’s Consulate statement, the US and India “are building a dynamic defence relationship through the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative, military exercises, official visits and exchanges, and the sales of military systems and platforms”.

“In addition, the US defence industry has demonstrated its commitment to partnering with India to provide the highest quality, most reliable, and most technologically-advanced defence equipment and systems in the world – from small arms, to unmanned aerial systems, to helicopters and fighter aircraft,”it stated.

DefExpo 2018 will see 19 US companies exhibiting while many more will be participating, according to the statement.

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