US approves sale of drones to India - General Atomics

Posted June 24, 2017

Now, the future of ties between the world's most powerful democracy and its biggest one is once again a matter of debate, as diplomats and analysts on both sides await the first face to face meeting between Modi and Donald Trump on June 26. That's according to a congressional aide and an industry representative speaking to The Associated Press. However, no statements would be made until the US Congress is informed about any sale of arms.

Reports suggest that the U.S. has agreed to supply 22 armed predator Guardian drones to the Indian Navy.

Congressman George Holding, co-chair of the House India Caucus, will offer his perspective on the India-U.S. relationship.

"It will be interesting to see how Modi's visit to the U.S. will influence the two countries" bilateral economic ties", an article in the state-run Global Times said.

Modi's two-day visit to Washington, which starts Sunday, takes place amid uncertainty over the relationship because of differences on trade and other issues.

The Indian Navy made the request for this intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform a year ago.

Noting that India has also adopted United Nations sanctions against North Korea in April, the official said India joins the usa in sending a very strong message to the North Korean regime.

India is pushing for US approval of its request to buy a naval variant of the Predator drone, officials said, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to revitalise relations with Washington when he meets US President Donald Trump for the first time. As the India-U.S. partnership intensifies, Washington would like New Delhi to shed its age-old reticence and act as a security provider in the Indo-Pacific region.

A congressional staffer familiar with the matter confirmed the administration has approved the sale. The discussions will also include efficiency in logistics arena, the post-demonetisation macroeconomic scenario and the potential gains through the GST rollout from next month, an official said. With India being called a "major defense partner" of the US since past year, a carrier sale could provide the substance needed to propel these initiatives forward.

Ahead of his three-nation tour that begins on Saturday, Prime Minister Modi says that the aim of his upcoming visit to the United States was building of a forward-looking vision for the bilateral partnership and further consolidate the robust and wide- ranging ties.

The U.S. outreach to India over the past two decades was based in part on an attempt to support a counterweight to Chinese influence in Asia.

"If you can get something done over a 10 year process with India, you are above average", said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group. This will be the first dinner for a foreign dignitary at the White House under this administration. They can be used at the border. "Yet under PM Modi's sectarian leadership", Rotola states, "Non-Hindu's are urged, or in many cases forced to become Hindu again or Indian 'Christians can go to America, and Muslims to Pakistan'". Yet many foreign investors are concerned about bureaucratic regulations, lack of consistency in government policies (for example taxation policy) and now increasingly about political and social issues related to suppression of media freedom, rise of religious vigilantes and attacks on religious minorities.

India will focus on building and strengthening chemistry with U.S. during this meeting. New Delhi is also closely watching the administration's review of the H1B visa program, under which thousands of skilled Indian workers come to the U.S.

For Walling, the issue he wants to see most discussed during Modi's visit is the US' withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

GE has grabbed one of its largest deals in India with a $2.6-billion contract to build diesel locomotives while Gilead has worked out local licensing agreements with Indian companies making generic drugs to manufacture low-priced versions of HIV and hepatitis C medicines.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.