US to push for $15 bn fighter jet deal with India

US to push for $15 bn fighter jet deal with India

Agency News

New Delhi, June 5: Hardly a week since Modi government took over for second term, a top US functionary will be arriving here on Wednesday and is likely to interact with new External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and others to discuss defence partnership and also take steps for "furthering opportunities for American industry" and push for $15 billion fighter jet deal.

"Talks will focus on supporting India’s role as a major defence partner, expanding our security cooperation, and furthering opportunities for American industry," an US statement has said here disclosing about the three-nation crucial tour of Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper to India, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

"In India, Assistant Secretary Cooper will hold talks on defense cooperation and peacekeeping, two key areas of the rapidly growing US-India partnership as envisioned in the Administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. The US-India bilateral defence trade has risen from virtually zero in 2008 to $15 billion today," the statement said.

According to sources, the visiting US dignitary is likely to meet Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and also Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday. Cooper’s visit is also seen as an 'important prelude' for the much talked trip of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is likely to visit India in June prior to the two-day G20 Summit to be held in Japan.It has been given to understand that the Indian Air Force is in urgent need of upgraded fighter jets but the Modi government had laid emphasis earlier to 'procure' the jets under its ‘Make in India’ initiative. But such strategies will be time-consuming only.

The Donald Trump administration is hopeful that the deal will prove to be “favourable” for the US. The US has reacted positively to the appointment of S Jaishankar, a known hand in dealing with Indo-US ties, as India's new foreign minister.

Ken Juster, US envoy to India, had tweeted on June 2, - "Congratulations to Dr S Jaishankar on your appointment as Minister of External Affairs of India. You have been a key architect of the US-India strategic partnership, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship. US-India-Dosti".

The official statement from the US government also said: "In Sri Lanka, Assistant Secretary Cooper will meet with government officials and think tank experts to discuss security, peacekeeping, clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance, counter terrorism, and other areas of mutual interest". UNI