WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Saturday called on the United States and India to do more to transform their defense relationship through increased partnership in production and technology, given the edge he said both nations have in science and innovation.
According to a statement of the U.S. Defense Department, speaking in New Delhi to business leaders and scholars on the final day of his first visit to India as defense chief, Hagel said that the future of both nations rests on a stronger strategic partnership and global engagement, and he said he came away from meetings with Indian leaders reassured about that.
"The fundamentals of the U.S.-India partnership are strong," Hagel said. The question is whether India and the United States can achieve the enormous potential for this partnership -- whether we can transform our potential into results. Following my conversations yesterday, I'm more confident than ever that we can."
Hagel said the United States welcomes new proposals from India on defense issues in areas where both countries can partner in production and development, ranging from big data to cognitive sciences to chemical and biological defense and material sciences while building on the scale and complexity of joint military exercises and maritime operations.
Hagel noted that more than 9 billion dollars in defense contracts have been signed between both countries over the past six years, the statement said.
"But we can do more to forge a defense industrial partnership, one that would transform our nations' defense cooperation from simply buying and selling to co-production, co-development and freer exchange of technology," the statement quotes the defense secretary.
Hagel had characterized his trip as a get-acquainted visit with the new government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi while seeking to expand common interests, the statement said.
Hagel's trip comes just a week after a visit by Secretary of State John F. Kerry. Both visits are intended to prepare for a White House visit by Modi next month, the statement added.