• India, US set to wrap defense deal

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    NEW DELHI: Senior officials from India and the United Statess will hold several high-level interactions over the next few days that are likely to be the last for the Obama administration.

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    Defense Minister Manohar Parikkar is scheduled to hold his third meeting with US Defense Secretary Ash Carter today, at which officials hope to wrap up a defense deal which has been in the works for a while.

    Calling the defense partnership “the most ambitious one over the past several years,” a US official said, previewing the meetings on background, that the logistics agreement between the two countries — Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) — which was finalized during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s June visit, could be signed in the “near future whether or not if that is going to be part of minister’s visit or not.”

    Also on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry will be reaching New Delhi for the seventh India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue. This is his fourth trip to India as secretary.

    He will be joined by commerce secretary Penny Pritzker for the dialogue on Tuesday, along with representatives from 12 US agencies.

    Kerry is also scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

    The secretary of state will also meet Modi.

    “I wanted to underscore that this is ostensibly the last strategic dialogue of the Obama Administration and ostensibly Secretary Kerry’s final visit to India, although I will never rule anything out,” the official said, adding, “It’s an opportunity also to really mark them up on the enormous and consequential relationship” this has become.

    Modi and Obama are also likely to meet, for possibly the last time for Obama as president, during a G20 meeting in China starting on September 4. It is not clear if they will have a bilateral meeting or just a pull-aside.

    TNS

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