U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter(L)watches as Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar addresses a press conference in New Delhi on April 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Prakash SINGH
U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter(L)watches as Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar addresses a press conference in New Delhi on April 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Prakash SINGH

New Delhi : A long standing irritant between India and America has been plucked off. Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter have agreed “in principle” to a logistics exchange agreement to enable both militaries to use each other’s assets and bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.

The previous UPA government did not agree to this American demand. As an issue this did not find favour with the previous UPA government, as it would have led to India losing its traditional autonomy and being perceived as having entered a military alliance with the US.

In the diplomatic and strategic jargon, the deal referred to as LEMOA is a tweaked version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) which facilitates the provision of logistical support, supplies and services between the US military and the armed forces of partner countries on a reimbursable basis, and provides a framework that governs the exchange of logistics support, supplies and services.

Explaining the proposed agreement, Parrikar said it is for providing logistics whenever they need fuel or other support during operations like the humanitarian exercise done in wake of the devastating earthquake in Nepal.

“This will help if any such situation comes up. Logistics is a very important part of the operation. It will be on case by case basis,” Carter said, adding that “all issues” relating to the deal have been resolved. Both made it clear that the agreement, which will be signed in “weeks” or “coming months”, does not entail deployment of American troops on Indian soil.

This was the fourth Parrikar-Carter meeting in a year and is a sign of growing defence cooperation between the two countries. Ramping up bilateral defence ties, the two sides agreed to set up a

new bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue between officials from their respective defence and foreign affairs ministries. Also both India and the US emphasised on freedom of navigation and the need for international based order, in an apparent reference to China’s assertiveness in South China Sea.

Carter said India and the US agreed to two new projects under the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI). This included a tactical biological detection unit, Carter said.

On the growing Indo-US military exchanges, Parrikar said, “As our engagement deepens, we need to develop practical mechanisms to facilitate such exchanges.” Earlier in the day they visited the Indian Naval Base in Karwar and the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier. They also visited the USS Blue Ridge which was conducting a port call in Goa during the Secretary’s visit. Secretary Carter will also meet the National Security Advisor and the Prime Minister.

F16 for Pak anti-terror op

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter told NDTV that the recent sale of US F-16s to Pakistan, which India strongly objected to, was based on the assumption that the fighter jets will be used for counter-terrorism operations.”We strongly believe in curbing terrorism originating in the territory of Pakistan and we fully recognize that it has affected India in incidents that we deplore,” he told the channel.

 DEFENCE EMBRACE 

  • Two militaries can use each other’s land, air and naval bases for refueling, repair and rest
  • US troops can be in India only on the invitation of the government and the agreement won’t be binding on either
  • Will not entail deployment of American army on our soil

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