India has indicated to the US that it may reconsider its stand on three contentious defence foundational agreements if its apprehensions about some of the issues in the pacts are addressed by the Pentagon.
After Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s just concluded visit to the US wherein he had detailed discussions with Defence Secretary Ashton Carter on a wide range of issues, top officials from both sides said there is some positive movement on the three defence agreements being proposed by the US to India, which was opposed by New Delhi thus far.
The three foundational agreements proposed by the Pentagon are the Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA); Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
“The Indian side has expressed certain reservation/ apprehension about some of the issues (with regard to Foundational Agreements),” Parrikar told reporters at the end of his US trip responding to a question last week.
“We have told them that they should put up after due consideration and if the process (of technology transfer) can be speeded up, in principal those things (foundational agreements) can be considered,” Parrikar said.
US Ambassador to India Richard Verma, who was present in most of the meetings that Parrikar had with Carter, acknowledged that there would be some movement on this part.
“We would see progress on the foundational agreements in 2016 as well,” Verma told Indian reporters on Friday.
“We have made a very convincing case to the Indian side that this is so much in their interest and our interest to sign the agreements and let’s move over to the next level of technological co-operation and the signals we are getting are positive,” Verma said in response to a question.
However, he said the defence co-operation would continue at the same pace even in the absence of these agreements, which is only one of the broader export control issues.
“Foundational agreements are part of it, but I would not suggest that either you have to have foundational agreements or nothing would happen,” Verma said.
The issue of foundational agreements popped up prominently during the meetings with defense industry as well.
“The US side wants India to sign foundational agreements. This, the US side feels, would allow them to transfer technology to India with confidence,” said Sukaran Singh, CEO and MD of Tata Advanced Systems, who was part of the Indian business delegation that accompanied the Defense Minister.
However, Singh said he was not aware how much progress was made by the two countries on the three agreements