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USA approves sale of its Guardian drones to India

The US has cleared the sale of predator Guardian drones to India to enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities, as President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged on Tuesday to bolster defense and security cooperation between the two strategic partners.

The US and India look forward to working together on advanced defense equipment and technology at a level commensurate with that of America's closest allies and partners, said a joint statement issued after the Modi-Trump Summit at the White House.

"President Trump and Prime Minister Modi pledged to deepen defense and security cooperation, building on the United States' recognition of India as a Major Defence Partner.

"Reflecting the partnership, the US has offered for India's consideration the sale of Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial Systems, which would enhance India's capabilities and promote shared security interests," the statement said.

Resolving to expand their maritime security cooperation, they announced their intention to build on the implementation of their "White Shipping" data sharing arrangement, which enhances collaboration on the maritime domain awareness.

Trump welcomed Modi's strong support for the US to join as an Observer in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium.

Noting the importance of the upcoming MALABAR naval exercise (involving the US, Japan and India), the leaders determined to expand their engagements on shared maritime objectives and to explore new exercises.

Earlier in his remarks to the press, Modi said there is increasing possibilities for enhancing cooperation in order to protect "our strategic interests (that) will continue to determine the dimensions of our partnership".

"With regard to security-related challenges, our enhanced and growing defence in security cooperation is extremely important. We have spoken at length on this subject as well.

"The strengthening of India's defence capabilities with the help of USA is something that we truly appreciate. We have also decided to enhance maritime security cooperation between the two nations," the prime minister said.

"President Trump and I have also spoken about strengthening bilateral defence technology and our trade and manufacturing partnership, which we believe will be mutually beneficial to us. We also discussed international issues and our common strategic interests in this country," he said. Trump said the security partnership between the US and India is incredibly important.

"Our militaries are working every day to enhance cooperation between our military forces, and next month they will join together with the Japanese navy to take part in the largest maritime exercise ever conducted in the vast Indian Ocean, Trump said.

Last week, media reports said that the US has cleared the sale of 22 predator Guardian drones, a force multiplier that will boost the Indian Navy's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

The deal was estimated to be worth USD two to three billion, the reports said, adding that the decision was communicated to the Indian government and the manufacturer General Atomics by the US State Department.
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