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Hagel Discusses Defense Cooperation with Modi

  • VOA News

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, center, talks with Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi, Aug. 8, 2014.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, center, talks with Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi, Aug. 8, 2014.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday in New Delhi, in a bid to strengthen military ties and seek defense contracts from the South Asian country.

The Pentagon says the two leaders discussed the importance of continuing "robust defense cooperation, particularly in terms of co-development and co-production, and military education and training exchanges."

Prime Minister Modi's office said he indicated his desire to see further progress in defense relations, including defense manufacturing in India, technology transfer, and exercises.

Modi and Hagel also discussed the deteriorating security situation in Iraq and potential regional implications. Modi also said an early completion of Afghanistan's election process is essential for the country's peace and stability.

The two leaders also discussed shared interest in peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region.

Hagel also met with his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley on Friday, as well as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

India is the world's biggest arms importer and the United States is looking to secure additional defense contracts. Indian officials say they are negotiating a $1.4 billion deal to buy at least 22 helicopters.

The Indian government says defense trade between the two countries has grown significantly, with India purchasing more than $10 billion worth of military equipment from the U.S. in recent years.

The Indian Cabinet this week approved plans to increase the limit on foreign direct investment in India's defense sector from 26 percent to 49 percent.

Hagel's trip to India comes just days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed trade, security and climate change during the fifth round of the India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi.

During his visit, Kerry met Prime Minister Modi and said that India and the U.S. can become "indispensable partners" in the 21st century. Modi is scheduled to visit Washington in September.

The prime minister's office said the Indian leader is looking forward to his visit as an opportunity to see how the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy can build a partnership for peace in the world.

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