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June 23, 2017

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US, India must improve defense cooperation: Hagel

NEW DELHI -- The United States and India must seize opportunities to collaborate more on defense development and not let government red tape and other problems stymie progress between the two nations, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Saturday.

Capping two days of meetings here, Hagel's speech to New Delhi business leaders and scholars reflected the hopes and frustrations of America's struggles to forge weapons development agreements with India.

Hagel leaves India with few concrete agreements, acknowledging the two countries — the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest — must be "results oriented" and do more to "transform our nations' defense cooperation from simply buying and selling to co-production, co-development, and freer exchange of technology."

In meetings with top Indian government leaders he pressed for broader coordination in new weapons production, including a pilot plan for the two nations to jointly develop a next-generation anti-tank missile. The U.S. is hoping to partner with India as it modernizes its military, but Indian leaders are more interested in co-development opportunities than in simply buying American-made weapons.

"For both our nations, the challenge is to seize the opportunities, those opportunities that are before us today," Hagel said in remarks to the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi think tank. "Bureaucratic red tape — within either of our governments — must not bound the limits of our partnership and initiatives."

Hagel said the new initiative includes more than a dozen proposals that would transfer technology and production expertise to India. They included a plan for the U.S. and India to co-produce and co-develop, the next upgrade of the Javelin anti-tank missile which would be cheaper, lighter and more capable.

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