State Department To Consider Senators Letter on Sale of Guardian to India

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Washington, DC – The US Department of State confirmed to Indian American Times in an email that it was in receipt of a letter from two top senators regarding the sale of the Guardian system to India.

In their letter dated September 2, a copy of which was obtained by IAT, the two Senators Democrat Mark R. Warner from Virginia and Republican John Cornyn from Texas, reminded the Secretary of State John Kerry that improving India’s maritime domain awareness is a key priority.

The two top Senators wrote the letter to Kerry days after the issue was discussed by visiting Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar with the US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter at the Pentagon on August 30.

In an email response, Mark Toner, Department of State Deputy Spokesperson said, “We can confirm that we have received the letter, and – as with all Congressional correspondence – we will reply as appropriate.”

Asking the top US diplomat to approve with “utmost urgency” India’s request to buy unarmed Guardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) to improve its maritime surveillance capabilities in the Indian Ocean region, the senators wrote, “Guardian would aid the Indian Navy in meeting a vast spectrum of maritime security and maritime domain awareness challenges, such as maintaining freedom of navigation, maritime search and rescue, protection of commercial activity and disaster response.”

On the ongoing internal discussion at the State Department, David McKeeby, a spokesperson for the US Department for State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, which oversees US security cooperation programs told IAT, “As a matter of policy, the Department does not comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they have been formally notified to Congress. However, I would note more broadly that the expanding defense trade relationship between the United States and India plays an integral role in our defense and strategic partnership.”

McKeeby continued, “The United States and India have an overarching shared interest in promoting global security and stability. The United States supports India’s rise as a security partner in Asia, as envisioned in the January 2015 Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region. We see defense trade as a way to strengthen our countries’ security, reinforce our strategic partnership, achieve greater interaction between our armed forces, and build greater understanding between our defense establishments. As India modernizes its forces, we want to continue to offer high quality, dependable, and technologically advanced products to India, consistent with our Conventional Arms Transfer policy, Unmanned Aerial Systems Export policy, and our international commitments, including those under the Missile Technology Control Regime.

“We will continue to pursue defense trade and cooperation, including through a wide range of military exercises, training, peacekeeping, and counter-piracy efforts. With Secretary Kerry’s visit to India for the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, Prime Minister Modi’s and Defense Minister Parrikar’s visit to Washington this summer, the momentum is building for a sustained and strong defense relationship between our countries,” concluded McKeeby.

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