NEW DELHI — In the first visit to India by a senior official of the Trump administration, U.S. national security adviser Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster on Tuesday reaffirmed India's designation as a major defense partner.
"Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster shared his perspective with Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] on the security situation in the extended region, including in Afghanistan, West Asia and [North Korea," a statement from the prime minister's office said.
The statement also said McMaster conveyed the greetings of U.S. President Donald Trump to Modi, who recalled the importance of the Indo-U.S. strategic partnership and of stepping up bilateral engagement "across the board."
McMaster also held talks with his Indian counterpart, Ajith Doval, and Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
A U.S. Embassy statement said that McMaster "reaffirmed India's designation as a major defense partner."
Officials here said in private that the meeting did not "yield an announcement of Prime Minister's Narendra Modi's visit to Washington."
According to a U.S. Embassy statement, "the two sides discussed a range of bilateral and regional issues, including their shared interest in increasing defense and counterterrorism cooperation. The visit was a part of regional consultations that included stops in Kabul and Islamabad."
On defense cooperation, an Indian Ministry of Defence official said the Trump administration has yet to "demonstrate on ground" that India is a major defense partner of the United States. "Joint negotiations on major defense projects, including sharing of jet technology and aircraft technology, are on a standstill," he said.
India has bought weaponry and equipment worth $15 billion in the last 10 years. However, defense ties between the two countries have merely been of the Buy and Sale nature. Efforts to set up the joint development of high-tech weaponry has not yet yielded any results.
During a January 2015 visit to India, then-U.S. President Barak Obama agreed to help India with the development of a jet engine technology and aircraft carriers. The two countries also renewed their 10-year defense framework agreement which incorporated the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative — the forum aimed at identifying weapons projects that can be jointly developed.
Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.