Members of the powerful India Caucus have introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at providing India access to the weapons it needs to defend itself and boost its security goals with the US in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
Indian-American Democratic Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna and Marc Veasey joined Republican Congressmen Andy Barr and Mike Waltz in introducing the legislation that will allow weapon sales to India from the US to be fast-tracked and deepen the US-India defence ties.
Companion legislation has also been introduced by Democratic Senator Mark Warner and Republican Senator John Cornyn in the US Senate, a statement issued by Krishnamoorthi’s office said.
Barr’s office said in a statement that this legislation would “place India on equal footing with other U.S. partners and allies by streamlining and accelerating the review and sales process for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and exports under the Arms Export Control Act.” It subjects Indian FMS to the same threshold for oversight and accountability as other key US partners and allies, ensuring that India has streamlined access to the high-end capabilities necessary to defend itself.
“By deepening the U.S.-India defence partnership, this legislation will buttress India’s role as a key provider of security in Asia,” the statement said.
The move came days after the historic state visit to the US by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the visit, India and the US signed a host of defence and commercial pacts, including joint production of jet engines in India to power military aircraft and a deal on the sale of armed drones.
Krishnamoorthi said that under the Arms Export Controls Act, the review and sales process for weapons to American partners and allies is streamlined and accelerated.
By adding India to this list, FMS will not only be approved faster but they will also be required to clear the same threshold for oversight and accountability as all other American allies.
"This will ensure India has access to the weapons it needs to defend itself and further US-India security goals in the Indo-Pacific region,” it said.
Krishnamoorthi said strengthening the U.S.-India strategic partnership is vital to the prosperity and security of not only both nations but also other democracies around the world.
“That is why I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to expand security cooperation between the United States and India by adding India to the list of partners included in the Arms Export Control Act,” he said.
Krishnamoorthi added that on the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the US and the Chinese Communist Party, where he serves as the Ranking Member, “we passed this legislative recommendation with overwhelming bipartisan support. Now we must pass this bipartisan measure into law.” Congressman Waltz said the US and India are bonded by shared national security interests and democratic values.
"Which is why it’s so important we continue to strengthen our global partnership to address the threats of today,” he said.
"As our militaries continue to conduct joint military exercises and coordinate through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, streamlining military sales will help our two nations bolster security in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.
India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the strategically vital region.
China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, through which more than USD 5 trillion of trade passes annually.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims over some of the areas claimed by China.
Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.
Congressman Barr added that by removing the red tape around military sales, “we are recognising India as the key partner it is." "Together, the United States and India will continue to cooperate and safeguard our shared national security interests and promote stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.
Barr said as the world’s largest democracies, strengthening “our global partnership is paramount in addressing the challenges of today and securing a safer future for all.”
Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.