New Delhi: Downplaying the US Senate’s rejection of a key legislative amendment, India on Thursday said it was already recognised by the United States as a “major defence partner.”
Had the US Senate’s rejection not happened, the legislative amendment would have brought New Delhi at par with NATO members and other close American military partners.
But that was not to be. The Senate on Wednesday refused to pass the India-related amendment to the defence policy bill for 2017. This bill would have authorised over $600 billion for military purposes, including war spending. The US federal law specifies the defence budget and expenditures and also limits funding levels and sets out the defence policy framework.
“It is early to speculate about the outcome of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2017,” Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
He added that it “is in the process of its formulation and it would be premature to speculate about its final content.”
“We have seen media reports about non-inclusion of an India-related amendment in the consideration of the NDAA by the US Senate,” Swarup said.
The spokesperson noted that “preparation of NDAA is a process distinct from the decision of the US government to recognize India as a major defense partner”.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s White House meeting with US President Barack Obama, Swarup said, “This was an executive decision and already announced in the India-US joint statement of June 7.”
“A number of Senators and Congressmen have moved proposals that only seek to reinforce this decision of the US government. It reflects the bipartisan support in the US Congress for stronger defence cooperation between India and the US,” Swarup added.