New Delhi: Defence minister Arun Jaitley will visit the Pentagon in October to further strengthen defence cooperation between India and the US.

Jaitley will be in Washington, D.C., to attend the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, and has accepted US defence secretary Chuck Hagel’s invitation to visit the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US department of defence, India’s ministry of defence said on Friday after both sides agreed to increase cooperation.

Hagel arrived in New Delhi on Thursday on a three-day visit.

India and the US agreed to take their Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) forward. The two sides also decided to speed up the framework for the US–India defence relationship, well before it expires in July 2015.

“The development of our own indigenous capabilities is a major objective that guides our present policies. In this direction, we have taken steps to raise the FDI (foreign direct investment) cap in the defence sector. We look forward to work closely with the US in this regard," Jaitley said in a statement.

During his visit, Hagel has focused on strengthening defence relationships with India. He also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

India ranks among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of military expenditure. Its cumulative defence budget (including both capital and revenue expenditure) has grown 32% from 1.54 trillion in 2010-11 to 2.04 trillion in 2013-14. According to estimates, nearly 70% of the defence requirements are met through imports.

“The US wants to be a partner in India’s military modernization, and recognizes India’s need to strengthen their defence-industrial base," Hagel said on his official Twitter account. “The path to expansion is through a combination of new opportunities and a joint commitment by both India and the US."

On Wednesday, the Indian cabinet agreed to increase FDI in defence to 49% from 26%, in a move to attract foreign investment.

The US has been trying to woo India and this is the second visit by a high-ranking US official in less than a fortnight, coming close on the heels of a visit by secretary of state John Kerry.

The subjects during Kerry’s talks included security, energy, trade and investment, human resources development and regional and international issues.

India-US ties, which had warmed considerably since 2000, have been hit by several issues of late.

Analysts in India point a finger at the US administration’s pre-occupation with several global crises for its sagging interest in reanimating ties with India. The US was also seen as slow in building bridges with Modi after denying him a visa in 2005 over the 2002 religious riots in Gujarat that took place during his chief ministership. The ice was broken in February when then US ambassador Nancy Powell met Modi in Gujarat. On 16 May, as election results pointed to his elevation as India’s new Prime Minister, Modi received a congratulatory call from US President Barack Obama and the White House announced it was lifting the visa embargo.

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