US’ $618 Bn Defence Bill Helps Ties With ‘Major Partner’ India
Obama asked to take steps necessary to recognise India as America’s “major defence partner”.
US President Barack Obama has signed into law the USD 618 billion defence budget for 2017, which enhances security cooperation with India and conditions nearly half of the funding to Pakistan on a certification that it is taking demonstrable steps against the Haqqani Network.
Currently vacationing in Hawaii, Obama on Friday signed the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2017, which asks the Defence Secretary and Secretary of State to take steps necessary to recognise India as America's “major defence partner”.
A summary of the bill released by Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator John McCain said NDAA-2017 "enhances security cooperation" between the US and India.
It also asks the administration to designate an individual within the executive branch who has experience in defence acquisition and technology to reinforce and ensure, through inter-agency policy coordination, the success of the Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship among other things.
The NDAA, which among other things creates a USD 1.2 billion Counter-ISIL Fund, imposes four conditions on Pakistan to be eligible for USD 400 million of the USD 900 million of the coalition support fund (CSF).
The US Defence Secretary needs to certify to the Congress that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations that are contributing to significantly disrupting the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani Network in Pakistan and that Islamabad has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to prevent the Haqqani Network from using any of its territory as a safe haven.
Early this year, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter refused to give a similar certification to Pakistan due to which it was not given USD 300 million under coalition support fund.
The bill, among other things, creates a USD 1.2 billion Counter-ISIL Fund providing flexible resources to support training and equipping the properly-vetted Syrian opposition, Iraqi Security Forces and other local security forces with a national security mission.
Obama also slammed the Congress for not taking action toward closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
(With inputs from PTI)
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