US keen on selling fighter jets to India

WASHINGTON: The US is keen to move forward on some important defence agreements with India that will make it easier for the Trump administration to share classified data and facilitate the sale of F-16 and F-18 fighter jets to New Delhi, a top American diplomat has said.

The Trump administration last month told Congress that it “strongly supports” the sale of F-18 and F-16 fighter jets to India and asserted that the proposals have the potential to take the Indo-US defence ties to the next level.

There are important defence agreements that the two countries can move forward on, Alice G Wells, acting assistant secretary of state for the South and Central Asian Affairs, told reporters.

The agreements will make it easier for the US to share classified data and that will facilitate sales like the F-16 or the F-18 fighter jets and will help create a defence technology partnership, which is what India is seeking, but which will also create jobs for Americans at home, she said.

“This is a dynamic relationship which really hasn’t begun to see the potential yet,” Wells said.

Wells had accompanied US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his just concluded trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

“This was an extremely friendly, very wide-ranging dialogue on how we can partner together on the strategic relationship that we think is going to define the rest of the 21st century,” Wells said.

While there was a bilateral component to the visit, they talked about how the two countries with shared values - a respect for democracy, transparency, freedom of navigation, for economic development - can inculcate these values in the broader Indo-Pacific region, working with important partners like Japan and Australia.