US Air Force Secy to visit India; to discuss defence, trade

From Yoshita Singh New York, Aug 18 (PTI) Indo-US cooperation in defencetechnology and trade initiatives will be the focus of the USAir Force Secretary’s upcoming visit to India during which shewill also discuss with top Indian officials proposals toco-produce aircrafts in India. Deborah Lee James will travel to India later this monthas part of a maiden visit to four Asian countries that wouldalso take her to Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines andwill discuss the situation in the South China sea as well asthe growing threat of terrorism. During her visit to India, she will meet Chief of AirStaff Marshal Arup Raha and Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumarand will also discuss with her Indian counterparts proposalsto co-produce aircrafts in India in line with Prime MinisterNarendra Modi’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ campaign. "We will be looking to see how can we deepen ourpartnerships and how can we take it to the next level," Jamessaid in response to a question by PTI at a press briefing hereyesterday on what her focus will be during her visit to India. She said she will discuss defence technology and followup on the trade initiatives, which were launched during USDefence Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to India in April. James replied in the affirmative when asked if she willfollow up on American defence major Lockheed Martin’sproposals to assemble F-16s in India as well as on discussionsto collaborate in bolstering India’s fighter jets and the jetengine technology working group. "I will be following up on all of those topics,discussing these counterpart to counterpart on a bilateralbasis. I will be seeking the views of my counterparts, whattheir opinion is on the various proposals on the table andwhat more needs to happen to advance the ball on some of theseproposals. "I am also aware of the Prime Minister’s push for Make inIndia and the importance of creating new jobs in that sector.One of the proposals would be to co-produce certain aircraftsin India and that might be one example of something that willbe useful from a military standpoint but also might play intothe Make in India campaign," she said. James said she would also follow up on the initiativeslaunched during Carter’s visit and the possible outcomes of itfrom the Air Force perspective. She, however, noted that while some proposals will moveforward, others may not if they are not the right fit. Describing the Indian Air Force as a "very effectivefighting unit", she said it has been a participant over theyears in "red-flag" exercise series, where the US getstogether with coalition partners to train and inter-operateand "test ourselves in a high-end and very challengingdifficult environment". James added that she also looks forward to congratulatingIndia on the "magnificent execution" of the operationundertaken to evacuate Indian citizens from South Sudan. PTIYASSAI


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