India, US sign military logistics agreement, clarify not about bases

Washington, Aug 30 (IANS) India and the US on Monday signed a historic agreement on sharing logistics, with both Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter clarifying that it will not involve setting up of military bases.

The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) was “in principal” agreed on during Carter’s visit to India in April.

The two sides also discussed India’s “Major Defence Partner” designation, which was announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in June, and the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) between the two countries.

A joint statement issued by the US Department of Defense after the meeting said both “welcomed the signing of the bilateral Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), which will facilitate additional opportunities for practical engagement and exchange”.

Talking about the LEMOA in a joint press conference, Carter said it will be a “very substantial enabler” for the two countries to work together.

“I want to make clear what it does is make possible and make easier operating together when we choose to. It doesn’t by itself create those agreements,” he said.

He added that decisions on operating together will be taken on case by case basis.

“When they do agree it makes all much more smoother,” he said.

Parrikar also clarified that the agreement will not involve in setting up bases.

“It does not have anything to do with setting up bases. It is for logistics support to each other … Like supply of fuel, supply of any other things that are required for joint operations, humanitarian assistance and many other,” he said.

The Indian Defence Ministry, meanwhile, said on Tuesday that the newly-inked agreement will work only on mutual consent, and reiterated that it does not provide for setting up of bases or an obligation to carry out joint activities.

“Defence cooperation between India and the United States has never been stronger than it is today,” the Defence Ministry said in a tweet from its official Twitter handle.

“LEMOA is a facilitating agreement that establishes terms, conditions, procedures for reciprocal provision of logistic support, supplies, service. Reciprocal logistic support would be used exclusively in port visits, joint exercises, joint training, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” it said.

“Logistics support for any other cooperative efforts shall only be provided on case to case basis through prior mutual consent of parties,” it said, adding that this consent would be consistent with the respective laws, regulations and policies.

The tweets added that LEMOA “does not create any obligations on either party to carry out any joint activity”, “does not provide for the establishment of any bases or basing arrangements”, and “significantly enhances operational capacity of our armed forces, including in response to humanitarian crises or disaster relief”.

–IANS

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