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India, US Expand Defense Ties By Signing A Deal

The U.S. and India also agreed to hold a new military exercise. The exercise will involve sea, land, and air forces. It will occur of the eastern coast of India in 2019.

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US, India Ink Deal to Expand Defense Ties Wikimedia Commons.
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The United States and India took a major step to expand defense ties Thursday, signing a deal that allows India to acquire high-end U.S. weaponry, including armed drones.

The agreement was signed during a meeting in New Delhi among U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and their Indian counterparts.

The U.S. earlier this year offered armed Guardian drones to India, but the sale could not go through until the agreement, known as COMCASA, was reached.

“The landmark agreement deepens our military to military cooperation and our ability to share the most advanced defense technology, making us both stronger,” Mattis said.

If the Guardian sale goes through, India would become the first non-NATO country to buy armed U.S. drones.

The deal reflects growing ties between the U.S. and India – the world’s two largest democracies – both of whom are concerned about China’s rising power.

Defense cooperation, in particular, has emerged as the “most significant dimension” of the U.S.-India relationship, said Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

 

India and usa,defense
Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj shakes hands with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis before the start of the 2+2 meeting at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.VOA

 

U.S.-India ties, she said, have reached “unprecedented heights.”

Iran, Russia disagreements

The U.S. and India haven’t always been this close. India, which has historically tried to be neutral in world affairs, has bristled at what it considers U.S. restraints on its foreign policy decisions.

Most recently, the U.S. has taken issue with India’s purchase of oil from Iran and its planned acquisition of a Russian missile defense system. Both moves would violate U.S. sanctions.

A Pentagon official last month threatened to impose sanctions on India if it goes ahead with its $6 billion purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

But in their public comments Thursday, neither side mentioned the Russia or Iran disputes. And the S-400 never came up in private discussions with India’s defense and external affairs ministers, said Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for South and Southeast Asia Joe Felter.

Iran also “wasn’t a big topic,” he said.

Most of India’s weapons are Russian-made, a legacy of India’s Cold War relationship with the Soviet Union. The U.S. is currently India’s second-largest weapons supplier.

India and usa,defense
U.S. Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meet with their counterparts Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Indian Minister of Defense Nirmala Sitharaman for the 2+2 meeting at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, India. VOA

But U.S. military sales to India have expanded rapidly – going from zero in 2008 to $15 billion this year. That figure now stands to increase, with the new agreement in place.

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“It comes down to trust. Some of this tech is very sensitive. Some countries we don’t want this tech to fall in the hands of,” Felter said, adding the U.S. has similar agreements with less than 30 countries.

The U.S. and India also agreed to hold a new military exercise. The exercise will involve sea, land, and air forces. It will occur of the eastern coast of India in 2019. (VOA)

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For Delhi Commuters, Google Maps Now Show Auto-Rickshaw Routes

Google Maps provides globally over a billion kilometres worth of transit results every day and has schedules for over three million public transit stops

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Auto rikshaws in India. Pixbay

Commuters in the national capital can now view “auto-rickshaw” routes as well as fares on Google Maps app, tech giant Google Monday said.

“Starting today, commuters in Delhi will be able to see a new public transport mode in Google Maps — auto-rickshaws. By selecting this mode of transport, commuters will be able to view suggested routes for the ride as well as the estimated auto-rickshaw fares,” Google said in a statement.

The new feature will reflect fares based on the official fare model shared by the Delhi Traffic Police, it said.

Google maps, auto-rickshaw
The latest version of the application includes enhanced voice input.

This feature will be available in the Google Maps app on the Android devices.

The idea is to incorporate one of most commonly used modes of public transport in Google Maps and share transparent information about the price of journey, Google Maps Product Manager Vishal Dutta said.

“Currently, for an unfamiliar journey, commuters often overpay and don’t have an idea about the distance or best route,” he added.

auto-rickshaw
By selecting this mode of transport, commuters will be able to view suggested routes for the ride.

Dutta said the feature will also help the users plan their journey better.

“…so they could look at the expected cost of the auto-rickshaw ride and decide whether they want to take it all the way, or perhaps take a different mode of transport instead — like a bus or the metro,” he explained.

Also Read: Google Not Going to Offer Controversial Face Recognition Technology

Google Maps provides globally over a billion kilometres worth of transit results every day and has schedules for over three million public transit stops worldwide, the statement said. (IANS)