United States Congress has passed a nearly 700 billion US dollars American defence budget for 2018, which, among other things, seeks advancement in defence cooperation with India.
The 2018 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) sailed through both the chambers of the Congress, House of Representatives and the Senate by a voice vote.
It now heads to the White House for President Donald Trump to sign it into law, which he is expected to do before the Thanksgiving holidays.
The budget also imposes tougher conditions on Pakistan for military and security assistance and accommodates last minute additional White House’s financial request implementing its new South Asia strategy.
The NDAA-2018 asks the Secretary of State and the Defence Secretary to come out with a common definition that recognises India’s status as a Major Defence Partner.
Welcoming the move, top Republican Senator Ted Cruz said few partnerships in the 21st century carried more strategic significance than the US-India partnership.
The NDAA-2018 also asks the Pentagon to develop a forward-looking strategy for defence ties with India that would build upon current objectives and goals, underlining a mutual desire to develop an enduring defence relationship with
According to it, the two countries should work closely with Afghanistan to promote stability in the region to include targeted infrastructure development and economic investment, means to address capability gaps in country, and improved humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.
The US Congress had designated India as a Major Defence Partner in its military budget for 2017.