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India, Portugal sign six agreements

India and Portugal have signed six memorandum of understandings (MoUs) including in defence cooperation.

These agreements were signed after delegation level talks Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his visiting Portugal counterpart António Costa who is chief Guest of 2017 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

Six agreements signed are
  • MoU on Defence.
  • MoU on Renewable Energy.
  • MoU on Marine Research and Resources.
  • MoU in the Agriculture and Allied Sectors.
  • MoU in the field of Information Technology and Electronics.
  • MoU on the establishment of an ICCR Chair of Indian Studies in University of Lisbon.

Besides, an agreement on visa waiver for holders of diplomatic passports was also signed. It allows visa free travel for diplomatic passport holders of India and Portugal to each other’s countries for short term visits. The defence agreement between both countries aims to boost joint production and development of niche weapons systems. It was signed following Portugal’s support to India’s multilateral plans in various technology regimes including Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in which India secured membership in 2016.

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India, Vietnam sign Civil Nuclear deal, three other agreements

India and Vietnam have signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement. With this, Vietnam became 14th country with which India has signed the civil nuclear deal.

The MoU in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy was signed by Sekhar Basu, Secretary of Department of Atomic Energy and Pham Cong Tac, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Science and Technology in New Delhi.

The two countries also signed three other agreements in the fields of energy, aviation and government cooperation. These agreements will enhance aviation links, cooperation in the area of energy efficiency and promotion of parliamentary cooperation between both countries.

Vietnam also extended invitation to India to explore energy in South China Sea (SCS). It has urged India to intensify economic engagement with Southeast Asia, highlighting India’s importance as a regional power. It also supported India’s multilateral membership plans including UNSC.

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India designated as major US defence partner

India has been designated as a major defence partner of the United States. It puts India on a par with the closest allies and partners of the US.

The agreement in this regard was reached between Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter in New Delhi. It was one of the last visits from a cabinet member of the outgoing Obama administration.

So far, US has bestowed this status upon the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) countries and the US treaty allies such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Philippines.

National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), 2017
  • India’s Major Defence Partner status has been made a part of the India Amendment in the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), 2017 of US.
  • India will get formal official stamp on this status after this bill is passed by two chambers of the Congress House of Representatives and Senate before it receives assent of US President Barack Obama.
  • Under the NDAA 2017, India will be included in conventional arms transfer policy, defence services, or related technology, inform the review of requests to export defence articles under the Arms Export Control Act.
Significance

The designation of this status is unique to India, a non-NATO ally of US. It institutionalizes the progress made by US to facilitate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level at par with its closest allies and partners. It will facilitate US to transfer of advanced defence technology to India. It will also strengthen institutional effectiveness of US-India Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTII) and the durability of the India Rapid Reaction Cell in Pentagon.

Background

India was designated Major Defence Partner status during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to US in June, 2016.  Since 2014 some major agreements were signed between India and US. It included Defence Framework Agreement in 2015, which laid a blueprint for collaboration between the defence establishments and the logistics support agreement Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).

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