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Millennium Post

Grim chances for renewal of Defence Framework pact

The US President Barack Obama will not be having the Defence Secretary-designate, Ashton Carter in the entourage on his trip to India, thus almost nullifying any chance for the 10-year Defence Framework Agreement (DFA) signed in June 2005, to be renewed during the trip. Sources in the defence ministry and the US Embassy revealed this to Millennium Post on Saturday.

Carter, who has been chosen as the US defence secretary, has still not been confirmed by the US Congress, though he has appeared for hearings at the US Senate. The defence framework agreement needs to be signed between the Indian Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar and Carter, as the previous was signed by Pranab Mukherjee, then defence minister and the then Defence
Secretary of the US, Donald Rumsfeld.

In any case, the Americans have an axe to grind before they sign on the dotted line on DFA. They have been insisting on India signing on to Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA). These pacts they refer to as foundational agreements, which would enable the US-based armaments manufacturers to sell their wares to the country, which is their third largest importer of military equipment.

The trip that Obama is making with a large business contingent will be more to strike arms deals that in the books of the American corporate giants is through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) category, which keep them off negotiating the byzantine dealmaking of the Indian defence ministry. The FMS is a government-to-government business process that leaves out the ‘unknowables’ off the agenda.

Having said that, Washington is now pushing another governmental agreement to push for defence-related trade: that is, under the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI). The provisions of the DTTI are yet to be revealed fully for any of the analysts give the final judgment.  

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