US flexible to adapt itself to meet India's defence needs: Official

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The United States is ready to give a special role to India in its "Asia-Pacific rebalance" strategy and is "flexible" to adapt itself to meet the Indian defence needs, a former US government official has said.

The official, who played a key role in India-US defence ties in past few years, hoped the Narendra Modi-led Indian Government with a decisive mandate would clear the high-tech projects that the two countries can co-produce for their respective armed forces.

He said the Obama Administration is ready to go that extra mile to help India realise its ambition of being self-reliant in defence research, development and production.

About 10 months ago, the then Deputy Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter had submitted to the then UPA government a comprehensive list of defence systems, which the US was ready to co-develop and co-produce with India.

"Those were projects that our industry would like to do with the Indian industry," the official told PTI in a recent interview on condition that his name would not be disclosed given the sensitivity of the defence relationship between the two countries.

These projects cover a whole gamut of defence system from hi-tech information, command and control and reconnaissance and naval systems. The proposals also included various kinds of advance aircrafts and weapons systems for the two armies.

Many of these proposals are those, which the US wants to introduce for its own armed forces, the official said, referring to level of high-tech items that the Pentagon wants to co-develop and co-produce with India in the coming years.

"If India would like to work with the US forces in developing those systems for both of the militaries to be deployed at the same time," he said but did not specify the projects arguing that they are of classified nature.

India is recognised by the US and other countries as more than a local and regional force. It's a country that people want to partner with, the official said.

According to the official, the US is prepared to "give a special role to India" in its Asia-Pacific rebalance strategy.

It is also "ready to be flexible" to meet India's needs so as to realise this partnership, which Obama described as a defining partnership of the 21st century.

"I think the US would be flexible as it has been in the last three years, changing its practices, its policies, incentivising its industry, it can do in a way that is agreeable and comfortable to the Indian side," he said.

The Obama administration, he said, is "loud and clear" for Indian desire for technology and for co-development of defence goods and not simply a buyer-seller relationship. As a result of this, the Pentagon has made important adaptations in the US defence system, which among other things includes changes in its export regulations and making India-specific policy changes.

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