India on June 16 downplayed the US Senate rejecting a key amendment recognising the country as “global strategic and defence partner”, saying it would be “premature” to speculate about its final content.
The US had recognised India as a “major defence partner” in a joint statement issued during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit there last week.
“We have seen media reports about non-inclusion of an India-related amendment in the consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by the US Senate.
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“The preparation of NDAA in the US Congress involves approval of different versions in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and their reconciliation to evolve a single consensual text, which is again put to vote in both chambers.
“The 2017 NDAA is in the process of its formulation and it would be premature to speculate about its final content,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
In a related development, the US Senate has moved to block USD 300 million military aid to Pakistan unless the Defence Secretary certifies that Islamabad is taking demonstrable steps against the Haqqani Network.
Swarup also noted that preparation of NDAA is a process distinct from the decision of the US government to recognise India as a major defence partner.
“This was an executive decision and already announced in the India-US Joint Statement of June 7. A number of Senators and Congressmen have moved proposals that only seek to reinforce this decision of the US government.
“It reflects the bipartisan support in the US Congress for stronger defence cooperation between India and the US,” he added.
The US Senate failed to recognise India as a “global strategic and defence partner” of the US after a key amendment necessary to modify its export control regulations could not be passed.
Top Republican Senator John McCain had moved an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA-17) which if passed would have recognised India as a global strategic and defence partner.
The US had recognised India as a “major defence partner” in a joint statement issued after Modi held talks with President Barack Obama which supported defence-related trade and technology transfer to the country which would now be treated on par with America’s closest allies.
NDAA was passed by the Senate with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 85-13. But some of the key amendments including the (SA 4618) – even though they had bipartisan support.