Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and outgoing United States Defence Secretary Ashton Carter on Thursday finalised the "major defence partner" status to India which will fast-track cooperation and sharing of high-end American defence technology.
Both sides also vowed to expand the bilateral defence cooperation as Carter met Parrikar in New Delhi for the record breaking seventh time.
"Today we finalised India's designation as a 'Major Defence Partner' of the US. The designation as a Major Defence Partner is a status unique to India and institutionalises the progress made to facilitate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level at par with that of the US's closest allies and partners, and ensures enduring cooperation in the future," a joint statement after the meeting said.
Carter also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Officials explained that details regarding US licensing rules among other have been finalised.
The statement added that both sides exchanged views on regional security issues including threat posed by terrorism.
"They agreed to continue further strengthening the bilateral counter terrorism cooperation and underlined the need to ensure that terror groups receive no patronage from any State," it said.
Citing common values and shared desire for peace and prosperity in Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, the two leaders reflected on the convergence of interests that have driven the strategic and technological "handshakes" between both nations and led to historic progress in bilateral ties, the statement added.
It said that bilateral defence ties have in the recent years moved along a "remarkable upward trajectory".
"Thank you my friend," Carter told Parrikar as both met at the South Block in New Delhi.
Carter said that this is the seventh meeting that he was having with Parrikar. "He is the Defence Minister with whom I have met for the maximum number of times," he said emphasising the importance that US puts on its ties with India.
During the meeting, which was more of a thanksgiving one, Carter said, "Today our defence relationship takes a major step as we designate India as a major defence partner.
It now needs to be formally passed by the two chambers of the Congress -- the House of Representatives and Senate -- before US President Barack Obama can sign it into law.
Marked progress on agreements, including the signing of a Defence Framework Agreement in 2015, have laid a blueprint for collaboration between our defence establishments and enabled deeper cooperation, the statement said.
Parrikar and Carter applauded the deepened scope of India-US military-to-military ties, which includes a dramatic increase in defence trade.
With regard to technology, both sides welcomed the tremendous progress achieved under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative and committed to explore new proposals and other innovative opportunities for co-production and co-development.
The emergence of DTTI as an integral and enduring component of India-US security cooperation is a sign that the relationship has matured to a level of strategic importance, the statement said.
DTTI will strengthen India's 'Make in India' initiative and both sides committed to convening all new DTTI working groups prior to the next DTTI Group meeting anticipated for February, 2017.
Parrikar and Carter agreed that the strong partnership between our countries is lasting and will thrive and grow for decades to come.
Meanwhile, Parrikar said he appreciated Carter's strong commitment to defence partnership.
"It is not an exaggeration that our defence relations are a major driver in our bilateral relations," he said adding Carter's conceptualisation of DTTI shows his interest in bilateral defence cooperation.
Parrikar said he was happy to see conclusion of discussion on major defence partnership.
"During our meeting over the last few years, we have agreed on practical exchanges such as LMEOA," the defence minister said.
He added, "I am confident that the defence cooperation will expand on the foundation you have built".
Carter replied saying that both countries have more to do in the years ahead.
"I am proud of what we have achieved my friend," he said.
US President-elect Donald Trump has nominated James Mattis, a retired 4-star Marine Corps general, for the post of the US Defence Secretary.
IMAGE: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar shakes hand with US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter Defence in New Delhi. Photograph: PIB