U.S., India to share space data, focus on defense, vaccine supply chains

iNDICA News Bureau

The United States and India have concluded a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on space situational awareness (SSA) and pledged to expand bilateral space cooperation, acknowledging the pivotal role international cooperation plays in the long-term sustainability and safety of outer space.

The announcement was made by the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries in Washington April 11 at the fourth U.S.-India 2+2 ministerial dialogue.

Through the agreement, India will receive data from the U.S. about space debris and other objects and the threat they may pose to the safety and security of new launches and existing satellites and other space assets.

In addition, the SSA framework will ensure the sharing of data and services to make certain the long-term sustainability of outer space activities of the two countries, which will protect their satellites from man-made or natural threats.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin III, India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also reaffirmed the vital role of secure, resilient, reliable and diverse supply chains for critical and emerging technologies (CET), vaccines and defense.

The U.S. appreciated recent economic reform initiatives in India which help to improve the ease of doing business, and efforts to accelerate the start-up/innovation sector. The ministers reaffirmed the need to enable regional and global innovation and decided to put in place a framework to advance cooperation in CET such as advanced communication technology, artificial intelligence, quantum science, STEM, semi-conductors and biotechnology.

They recognized the pivotal role of the U.S.-India partnership in combating the Covid-19 pandemic and other contemporary global health challenges and welcomed joint U.S.-India leadership under the Covid-19 Global Action Plan to get shots in arms, diversify and secure global supply chains, build capacity for healthcare workers, and scientific cooperation.

They also reaffirmed their commitment to work together to address barriers to pandemic-related vaccines and medical production so that global supply chains for vaccines are more resilient, stable, and predictable.

As information-sharing forms an important pillar of the U.S.-India defense cooperation, the ministers underlined the importance of building a comprehensive framework under which both militaries are equipped to exchange information in real time across domains. They welcomed progress toward full implementation of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) to support the exchange of geospatial information.

Acknowledging that their navies have been advancing American and Indian interests in the Indian Ocean region and wider Indo-Pacific, they discussed opportunities to deepen maritime cooperation.

They also lauded the growth in bilateral defense trade over the past decade. Seeking trusted and resilient defense supply chains, the ministers welcomed the progress made in implementation of the Industrial Security Agreement to facilitate collaboration on cutting-edge defense technologies between industries.

Both sides will explore and promote the means to encourage reciprocal participation of U.S. and Indian vendors in each other’s defense supply chains.

The U.S. also welcomed India’s announcement at COP26 to intensify its climate action and its long-term vision to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070.

India in turn welcomed the U.S. signing the Framework Agreement of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and looked forward to supporting projects to expand the availability of reliable and affordable solar power, including the $500 million investment by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in First Solar’s facility to produce solar panels in India.

The ministers reiterated the importance of a transparent and predictable business environment to facilitate private-sector investment and looked forward to reconvening the U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue and the CEO Forum this year to enhance economic cooperation, boost commercial ties, and develop private-sector recommendations for both governments.

Both sides welcomed the expanding cooperation between the energy sectors of the twp countries. Recognizing that access to energy must be affordable and reliable, they promised to work together bilaterally and at the global level toward these objectives.

Noting that volatility in energy markets could threaten orderly and predictable global energy transition, they welcomed initiatives by both countries to stabilize prices, including through the coordinated release from strategic petroleum reserves.

The ministers expressed satisfaction on the progress made on different collaborative initiatives under the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Energy Working Group and the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership Joint Working Group. They also noted ongoing negotiations between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC) to build six nuclear reactors in India.

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