Pitching 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' to US, Rajnath Invites American Cos to Invest in Defence Amid Tension with China

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Defence Minster Rajnath Singh and US Defence Secretary Mark T Esper on Monday reviewed military cooperation, secure communication systems and information sharing. Defence trade and industrial issues were also discussed to take bilateral cooperation forward between the two countries.

Singh further elaborated upon the initiatives under the Atmanirbhar Bharat to encourage investments in the defence ministry and invited US companies to avail "liberalised policies and favourable defence industry ecosystem in India".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Esper arrived in New Delhi on Monday for the third edition of the two-plus-two ministerial dialogue which is taking place just a week ahead of the American presidential election and in the midst of India's festering border row with China. The two-plus-two dialogue will be held on Tuesday. The Indian side at the talks will be represented by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

The two key officials of the Trump administration will also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and meet National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years. In June 2016, the US had designated India a "Major Defence Partner" intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.

The two countries inked the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provides for deeper cooperation. The two countries signed another pact called COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for sale of high end technology from the US to India.

The first edition of the two-plus-two dialogue was held in Delhi in September 2018 after the mechanism was approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump. The second edition of the dialogue took place in Washington in December last year.

The new framework of the ministerial dialogue was initiated in order to provide a forward-looking vision for the strategic partnership between the two countries.