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The US House of Representatives on July 14, 2017 passed a $621.5 billion defence policy bill, which among other things aims at increasing defence cooperation with India. An amendment in this regard, moved by Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera, was adopted by a voice vote by the House as part of the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2018, beginning October 1 this year. NDAA-2018 was passed by the House 344-81.
The amendment passed by the House requires the Secretary of Defence, in consultation with the Secretary of State, in order to form a strategy for enhancing defence ties between US-India. Bera speaking on the new defence ammendment, said, “The United States is the world’s oldest democracy and India is the world’s largest democracy. It is vitally important to develop a strategy that advances defence cooperation between our two nations.”
Here are key announcements in the defence policy bill by the House of Representatives:
India: NDAA-2018 asks the State Department and the Pentagon to formulate a strategy, which will focus on the common security challenges, the role of American partners and allies in the India-US defence relationship, and the role of the defence technology and trade initiatives. The bill also aims at steps on how to advance the use of communications interoperability and security memorandum of agreement and the basic exchange and cooperation agreement for geospatial cooperation.
Pakistan: Taking a strong note of the rising terror outfits in Pakistan, the House voted for three legislative amendments that imposes tougher conditions for reimbursement of defence funding to Pakistan. The bill, as passed by the House requires the Secretary of Defence to certify, before signing any reimbursement to Pakistan, such as the government is maintaining security along the Ground Lines of Communication through Pakistan, taking proper measures to counter terrorist activities, any major cross border attack.
The bill also notifies that an amount of $400 million, which has been allotted as reimbursement and support to Pakistan for a period starting from October 1, 2017 and ending on December 31, 2018, will not be eligible for a national security waiver, if Pakistan stops conducting military operations against the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan.
Indo-Pacific region: As per NDAA-2018, US “should maintain a military capability to deter acts of aggression and respond to regional threats”. Looking into China’s aggressive approach towards the disputed South China Sea region, the bill calls for reassessing and realigning forces by the US. The new bill assures that the United States will continue providing extended deterrence to allies in the Asia-Pacific, including Japan and South Korea.
(with inputs form PTI)