Washington: The US has recognised India as a "major defence partner", a significant development which paves the way for the country to be treated at par with America's closest allies for defence related trade and technology transfer.
"Noting that the US-India defence relationship can be an anchor of stability and given the increasingly strengthened cooperation in defence, the United States hereby recognises India as a Major Defence Partner," said a joint statement issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with US President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
According to the statement, under the 'Major Defence Partner' recognition, the US will continue to work toward facilitating technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.
Meanwhile, the White House also said that the meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi resulted in progress on finalising some key defence agreements between India and the US.
"I can tell you that there was important progress on finalising agreements relating to defence logistics, sharing of maritime information, and even the movement of US aircraft carriers in the region," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference.
The joint statement said, "the leaders reached an understanding under which India would receive license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies in conjunction with steps that India has committed to take to advance its export control objectives."
In support of India's 'Make In India' initiative and to support the development of robust defence industries and their integration into the global supply chain, the statement said the US will continue to facilitate the export of goods and technologies, consistent with US law, for projects, programmes and joint ventures in support of official US-India defence cooperation.
Applauding the enhanced military to military cooperation between the two countries especially in joint exercises,
training and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, Obama and Modi expressed their desire to explore agreements which would facilitate further expansion of bilateral defence cooperation in practical ways.
Officials from two sides said India and the US have finalised of the text of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA). It is likely to be signed soon, a senior administration official told reporters during a conference call. The decision was welcomed by Obama and Modi.
India and the US also finalised text of an Information Exchange Annex under the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation.
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said India and the US have reached an understanding to finalise the Framework for the US-India Cyber Relationship.
The two leaders also "resolved that the United States and India should look to each other as priority partners in the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean region," the joint statement.
During the meeting, Obama and Modi applauded the completion of a roadmap for cooperation under the 2015 US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, which they said will serve as a guide for collaboration in the years to come.
The US welcomes India's interest in joining the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, as India is a dynamic part of the Asian economy, the statement said.
They welcomed the enhanced engagement on intellectual property rights under the High Level Working Group on Intellectual Property.
They also reaffirmed their commitment to use this dialogue to continue to make concrete progress on IPR issues by working to enhance bilateral cooperation among the drivers of innovation and creativity in both countries.
In another important development, Obama and Modi recognised the fruitful exchanges in August 2015 and June 2016 on the elements required in both countries to pursue a US-India Totalization Agreement and resolved to continue discussions later this year.
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Modi and Obama reaffirmed their resolve to continue working together as well as with the wider international community to augment the capacity of the United Nations to more effectively address the global development and security challenges.
With the historic adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, and recognising its universality, they reaffirmed their commitment to implement this ambitious agenda domestically and internationally and work in a collaborative partnership for the effective achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.
Reaffirming their support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member, the two leaders committed to ensuring that the Council continues to play an effective role in maintaining international peace and security as envisioned in the UN Charter.
"The leaders are committed to continued engagement on Security Council reform in the UN Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council Reform," the joint statement said.
Obama and Modi welcomed the successful convening of the Leaders' Summit on UN Peacekeeping and committed to deepening engagement on UN peacekeeping capacity-building efforts in third countries, through co-organising the first UN Peacekeeping Course for African Partners in New Delhi later this year for participants from ten countries in Africa.
Observing that US and India share a common interest in working with partners in Africa to promote prosperity and security across the continent, Obama and Modi welcomed trilateral cooperation with African partners.
They looked forward to opportunities to deepen the U S- India global development cooperation in Africa, as well as in Asia and beyond.