A top US Senator has strongly pushed for selling the state-of-the-art guardian drones to India which “is going to be the next great thing of defence collaboration” between both countries. Democrat Senator Mark Warner and his Republican colleague in the Senate Dan Sullivan, during a programme here asserted that the erstwhile Obama Administration and the US Congress designating India as a major defence partner is a significant step forward in taking the India-US relationship to the next level.
While the two lawmakers were strong on India-US co-operation in Asia Pacific region, in particular South China Sea, both appeared to be quite soft to when it came to India’s interest with regard to terrorist safe havens in Pakistan which has been responsible for a number of terrorist attacks from across the border.
Senator Sullivan argued the case for joint military operation by India and the US in areas of common interest.
India, notably has shown reluctance to such a proposal from the US so far.
Warner, who is Co-Chair of the Senate India caucus and Ranking member of powerful Senate Select Committee on Intelligence expressed his displeasure of the bureaucracy from the US State Department and Department of Defense in selling the guardian drones to India.
India had requested for purchase of significant number of guardian drones for maritime surveillance, especially in the Indian Ocean.
“I have been frustrated with the Defence and State Department in terms of the sale of guardian drones. This is going to be the next great thing of defence collaboration,” Warner said, as he expressed his disappointment over what he said India’s inability to absorb the requirement of 30 per cent offset.
“Major Defence Partnership” which he said moves India into the category of non-NATO type ally, “is a great step in the right direction.”
“Actually this (Major Defence Partner) status that is unique to India. The idea is to actually institutionalise (the relationship),” Sullivan said in his remarks at the Widrow Wilson Center, a top American think-tank.
Responding to a question on Pakistan, Warner said while India and the US have a very strong relationship between the intelligence community, there is enormous concern not only about Pakistan’s role in unrest in Kashmir, but also the terrorist organisations from Pakistan.
Warner said that it is in the best interest of Pakistan not to differentiate between different groups of terrorists.
Praising India’s patience, Warner said India today has risen to a place where it sees itself as a major international partner. “I want to send a strong message that Pakistani can’t play” both ways, supporting one group of terrorists one hand and taking action against the others,” he said.
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Sullivan said there is always an area of common interest with India.
“I believe we can have strong relationship with both countries particularly in the area of international terrorism,” he said.