India and the US are set to sign a high-level Defence Framework Agreement, as US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter arrived in India on a three-day visit.
The 10-year agreement that will steer bilateral ties in the defence sector, which was renewed during the visit of US President Barack Obama in January, is set to be signed as Carter is scheduled to meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Carter arrived in Visakhapatnam, where he visited the Eastern Naval Command, tasked to maintain Indian presence in the South China sea region and the Strait of Malacca.
A statement from the US embassy said the trip to the Eastern Naval Command showcases the commitment to maritime security, a major component of the defence agreement.
“Carter’s trip to India is part of his focus on the U.S. rebalance to Asia. Specifically, his trip to Visakhapatnam showcased his commitment to maritime security and the need for a regional security architecture that creates transparency and trust among regional partners,” the US embassy statement said.
“In India, this positive momentum is especially tangible as Carter will sign the 2015 U.S.-India Defence Framework Agreement with his counterpart Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, which will help expand the defence relationship between the two countries,” the statement said.
The agreement among other things focuses on intelligence-sharing, maritime security, jet engine technology cooperation among other things. It is expected to have a reference to the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) which focuses on co-developing defence technology.
Carter will also call upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi and meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
At the Eastern Naval Command, the secretary visited INS Sahyadri, the indigenously built stealth frigate.
Carter also interacted with Vice Admiral B.K. Verma, chief of staff, Eastern Naval Command and held discussions on “issues of common interest”, said defence ministry officials.
Carter arrived in Delhi later in the day. This is his first visit to India as defence secretary.
Carter earlier visited India in September 2013 and July 2012 as deputy secretary of defence. He was the main architect of the DTTI and advocated treating India at par with the closest partners of the US in terms of technology transfer, collaborative ventures and expedited approval process for licences.