US, India to carry out large-scale joint military exercises in 2019

US, India to carry out large-scale joint military exercises in 2019

The exercise will involve sea, land, and air forces.

US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis (left), US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman pose for photos as they present media statements in New Delhi on September 6, 2018.

India and the U.S. signed a foundational defence partnership agreement during the dialogue and also agreed on several other measures to boost defence ties.

While it is expected that the final negotiations of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and other high-level defense exchanges under the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) will take center stage, both sides will also need to clarify their respective positions vis-à-vis Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China. Beyond the S400 system, it would be unrealistic to expect that the United States will continue to look away India's defence purchases from other countries, especially from countries hostile to the US.

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None of the officials who spoke after the talks made any reference to where things stand on that issue.

The world's two largest democracies have drawn closer in recent years, seeking ways to counterbalance China's spreading influence across Asia, notably in Pakistan, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.

Before coming to India, Pompeo held talks in Islamabad with Pakistan's new government and generals, aiming to smooth over tensions after President Donald Trump took a tough new line towards Pakistan over longstanding accusations it is not doing enough to root out Afghan Taliban fighters on its territory.

The US welcomed India's accession to three major non-proliferation regimes and reiterated its full support for India's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG). Washington and New Delhi share concerns over Pakistan-based anti-Western and anti-Indian Islamist militant groups.

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Once the communications accord is in place it could lead to the sale of an armed version of Guardian drones, as Washington has so far only authorised the sale of unarmed, surveillance versions of the aircraft.

Yesterday, while talking to the travelling press, Mike Pompeo had said that India buying a missile defence system from Russian Federation and oil from Iran would be part of the dialogue but not be the primary focus.

Under current United States rules, third countries could face sanctions if they transact with Russian defence or intelligence sectors.

However, a new defence bill proposes giving the United States president authority to grant waivers when national security interests are at stake. "Given those values, India and the United States have a natural starting point for advancing at free and open Indo-Pacific".

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"We're asking all of our partners, not just India, to reduce to zero oil imports from Iran, and so I'm confident that will be part of our conversation with India", the official said as Pompeo and Mattis met with their counterparts in the Indian capital. The two sides said they looked forward to full implementation of the civil nuclear energy partnership and collaboration between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Westinghouse electric Company for setting up six nuclear power plants in India.

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