India not perturbed by US Senate rejection as key military partner

New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) India on Thursday said it was already recognised by the United States as a “major defence partner”, downplaying the US Senate’s rejection of a key legislative amendment that would have brought New Delhi at par with NATO members and other close American military partners.

The Senate on Wednesday refused to pass the India-related amendment to the defence policy bill for 2017 that authorises over $600 billion for military purposes, including war spending.

Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a statement here that it was early to speculate about the outcome of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2017.

It “is in the process of its formulation and it would be premature to speculate about its final content”, Swarup said, about the annual US federal law that specifies the defence budget and expenditures and also limits funding levels and sets out the defence policy framework.

As moved in the Senate on Wednesday, one of the amendments introduced by top Republican senator John McCain included modification of American defence export control regulations that would have recognised India as a key strategic military partner.

“We have seen media reports about non-inclusion of an India-related amendment in the consideration of the NDAA by the US Senate,” Swarup said.

The spokesperson noted that “preparation of NDAA is a process distinct from the decision of the US government to recognize India as a major defense partner”.

“This was an executive decision and already announced in the India-US joint statement of June 7,” he said referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s White House meeting with President Barack Obama.

“A number of Senators and Congressmen have moved proposals that only seek to reinforce this decision of the US government. It reflects the bipartisan support in the US Congress for stronger defence cooperation between India and the US,” Swarup added.

–IANS

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