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India unimpressed as US senate refuses to see her as strategic partner

NEW DELHI: A week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s eloquent address to the US parliamentarians in Washington, the Senate (Upper House) rejected a law that was aimed to recognise India as a “global strategic and defence partner”. The law was supposed to modify United States’ export control regulations, to make state-of-art technologies available to India. The amended bill has also disappointed Afghans, who had helped American forces back in the war-torn country as interpreters and informers.

However the Indian camp is not too disappointed since the amendment to the law had just a symbolic value, diplomats now say. “The joint statement between the two countries has already recognised India as a Major Defence Partner,” they point out.

“The United States will continue to work toward facilitating technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners,” it said. Pointing out that the United States has already given India a license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies, officials said the US Senate rejection of amendments to a Bill would hardly have any affect.

The Republican senator John McCain had moved an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA-17) would have recognised India as a global strategic and defence partner. While the Act was passed with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 85-13, some of the key amendments including the SA 4618, relating to India could not be passed by the Senate. “I regret that the Senate was unable to debate and vote on several matters critical to our national security, many of which enjoyed broad bipartisan support,” McCain said in a statement.

The McCain amendment had said that the relationship between the United States and India have developed over the past two decades to become a multifaceted, global strategic and defence partnership rooted in shared democratic values and the promotion of mutual prosperity, greater economic cooperation, regional peace, security, and stability. Therefore, it had asked the president to such actions as may be necessary “to recognise the status of India as a global strategic and defence partner” of the US through appropriate modifications to defence export control regulations.

The amendment had asked the President to work toward actions and joint efforts such as significant contributions to ongoing global conflicts, that would allow the US to treat India the same as its closest partners and allies with respect to American laws and regulations. On an ongoing basis the President was supposed to carry out an assessment of the extent to which India possesses capabilities to execute military operations of mutual interest between the US and India.

Officials here said, all the issues raised by McCain have already figured in the joint statements issued after bilateral meetings over past few years. In the latest document, US had also committed to expand the co-production and co-development of technologies under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI). The leaders also established new DTTI working groups to include agreed items covering Naval Systems, Air Systems, and other Weapons Systems.

The amended bill has disappointed Afghans more , who had helped American forces back in the war-torn country as interpreters and informers. The Senate refused to extend the programme to provide Special Immigrant Visas for them. Back home they are targets for the Taliban and the ISIS for helping American forces. Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, called its omission “unconscionable.” In a statement, she said, “For many of them, this could be a death sentence.”(ends)
With Agencies