Washington: A bill that seeks to further strengthen the US' strategic relationship with India has been introduced in the House of Representatives by several influential American lawmakers.
The US India Enhanced Co-operation Act was introduced by Congressman Joe Wilson along with Indian-origin lawmaker Ami Bera, George Holding and Tulsi Gabbard.
The act seeks legislative changes in the Arms Export Control Act that would bring India on par with its major allies.
"The United States-India relationship is a cornerstone of security in the Indo-Pacific region. By designating India as a Major Defense Partner, we can strengthen our alliance and enhance our defense and security cooperation with India," Wilson said.
"Together, we can address emerging common threats, support maritime security in the region, and enhance military cooperation for joint exercises and humanitarian assistance," he said.
"The citizens of America and India cherish the same values and independent freedoms, and the United States-India Enhanced Cooperation Act will strengthen this important alliance," Wilson said.
Seeking to enhance the capabilities of the US and India to address emerging common threats, increase security cooperation, and expand joint military exercises, the act urges the US to encourage and facilitate India's role as priority partners in the South Asia and greater Indo-Asia- Pacific regions.
It asks the US to support the mutual interest in maritime security and maritime domain awareness, as well as enhanced military cooperation in joint exercises, training, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Among other things, it urges the US to conduct a joint assessment, led by the Secretary of State in partnership with the Secretary of Defense, of the extent to which India possesses capabilities to support and carry out military operations of mutual interest to the United States and India.
It also included an assessment of the defense export control regulations and policies that need appropriate modification, in recognition of India's capabilities and its status as a major defense partner.
The act says that the US is committed to continue to work toward facilitating technology sharing with and transfer of advanced strategic military capability to India on a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.
The leaders of the two countries reached an understanding under which India would receive license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies in conjunction with steps that India has committed to take to advance its export control objectives, it said.