The U.S. Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis will be embarking on his first ever visit to India in present capacity on Sunday, Sept. 24, the Pentagon said in a statement.
According to the statement, this is the first Cabinet-level visit to India under the Trump administration and will to underscore the enduring U.S. commitment to strategic partner India.
Mattis will be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on September 26 and will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the India Gate.
No specific defence trade deal is likely to be announced during the visit on September 26-27. But, officials said that there would be discussions on two specific proposals of Lockheed Martin F-16 and Boeing F/A-18 fighter jets under Modi’s Make in India campaign, along with efforts to identify new projects under the ambitious Defence Technology and Trade Initiatives (DTTI). Both companies have offered to assemble these planes in India.
U.S. has already become one of India’s top defence supplier with the sale of 3 Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter and 12 Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, as well as 22 AH-64 Apache and 15 CH-47 Chinook helicopters from Boeing.
India has also signed a deal worth $750 million in December last year for 145 M777 Howitzer guns for the Indian Army.
According to Pentagon statement, the secretary will emphasize that the United States views India as a valued and influential partner, with broad mutual interests extending well beyond South Asia and will also express U.S. appreciation for India’s important contributions toward Afghanistan’s democracy, stability, prosperity, and security.