‘US approves sale of 22 Guardian drones to India’
The deal, estimated to be worth $2-3 billion, has been approved by the State Department, the sources said.india Updated: Jun 23, 2017 09:00 IST
The United States is reported to have approved the sale of 22 Guardian drones India had sought for its navy, clearing a key defence agreement ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden meeting with President Donald Trump in the US next week.
The US state department, which had some reservations regarding the impact the sale might have on regional security balance, communicated its decision to clear the deal, PTI said in a report.
“As a matter of policy, we do not discuss potential or pending arms sales before they are notified to Congress,” a state department official told HT.
New Delhi has viewed its request to buy these unarmed drones as a key test of ties with the US under the new Trump administration.
The Obama administration had declared India a “major defence partner”, giving it the same status for co-development and co-production of defence equipment as close allies, and this has been endorsed by Trump administration officials.
The purchase of drones was a big-ticket ask. “We are trying to move it to the top of the agenda as a deliverable. This is something that can happen before all the other items,” an official tracking the progress of the drone discussions told Reuters.
The deal had the support of Congress and the White House and the state department had concerns that seemed to have been sorted out, according to reports.
Prime Minister Modi is expected to arrive in the US on Friday on a two-day visit. He will meet Trump in a set of one-on-one meetings on June 26 at the White House, ending the day with a dinner.
This will the first meeting for the leaders who have spoken multiple times on phone, starting the morning after Trump’s stunning electoral victory in November 2016.