Ahead of talks with Defence Minister A K Antony, his US counterpart Robert Gates says he wants removal of restrictions on export of American high -technology items to India and that this contentious issue was high on their agenda.
Simultaneously, a top Pentagon official Michele Flournoy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, said the US wants to offer best available military technology to India and hoped it would place a substantial order to American defence companies too.
Gates also said the Pentagon wants to strengthen and expand its military-to-military ties with India, which is going ahead with its plans to modernise the armed forces that runs into billions of dollars.
"We are looking to expand this relationship in ways that are mutually beneficial," Gates told reporters at a Pentagon briefing ahead of the crucial Antony visit next week.
"They (India) have a big competition going on for a new modern fighter. We'll probably have some conversations about that," Gates.
Responding to a question on the India's concerns about restriction on export of high-technology items, Gates acknowledged that this is high on the agenda and he would like to see those restrictions removed.
"I think that that is certainly high on our list, particularly in the context of export-import, or export controls, and my view of the importance of changing those export controls in ways that better protect the things that are really important and open up trade and allow US companies to sell abroad those things that technologies that are not critical," Gates said.
"So, I think India certainly is high on our list in terms of a country that we would like, I would like to see those restrictions eased," Gates said at the Pentagon news conference which was jointly addressed by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The military-to-military relationship with India is exceptionally strong and growing, said Mullen.
Flournoy in response to a question at an event organized last week by the National Bureau of Asian Research, a Washington-based think tank said "As we go forward, we are looking for ways to support India’s military modernization."
"We want to be able to be in a position to offer India the best technology available to cooperate with them on development of their defence capabilities and to continue to work as partners in, whether it’s counter piracy operations, maritime security operations, peacekeeping and so forth," said Flournoy who was recently in India.