New Delhi: A bipartisan group comprising half a dozen influential American lawmakers has reintroduced a key legislation in the House of Representatives which seeks to advance the US-India strategic relationship, a news report said Friday.
If enacted, the legislation would ensure that the US State Department treat India as a “NATO ally" for the purposes of the Arms Export Control Act.
It seeks to send a powerful signal that defence sales to India should be prioritised according to US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, which had worked on this important legislation.
The bill HR 2123 was introduced this week by Congressman Joe Wilson, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a PTI report from Washington said.
"India is the world's largest democracy, a pillar of stability in the region, and has shown strong commitments to export control policies," the report quoted Wilson as saying.
"This adjustment to US law will further allow the US-India partnership to flourish in line with our security commitment to the Indo-Pacific region. I am grateful for the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), led by Mukesh Aghi, and their support for this legislation," he said.
The original co-sponsors of the legislation are Congress man Ami Bera - the longest serving Indian-American in the US Congress - and the House India Caucus Co-Chairs, Congressmen George Holding, Brad Sherman and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Congressman Ted Yoho.
The proposed legislation follows the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2017 including special language that designated India as a "Major Defence Partner" of the United States.
The two taken together illustrates the major changes that have taken place in the India-US relationship over the past two decades.
Once seen as on opposite sides during the Cold War with the relationship marked by rancour and mistrust especially over the close ties Washington had with Pakistan and India seen as closer to the former Soviet Union, ties have now warmed with India seen as one of the top buyers of US military hardware and a major partner of the US in Asia.