In a significant development, India has been brought on a par with other NATO allies of the US such as Israel and South Korea with the passing of a legislative provision in the US Senate.
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) for Fiscal 2020 last week with an amendment containing a proposal for greater bilateral defence and humanitarian assistance cooperation between Washington and New Delhi.
Greater cooperation between the two countries is also envisaged in areas such as counter-terrorism, counter-assistance, piracy, and maritime security.
Senator John Cornyn, the Co-Chair of the Senate Committee on India, proposed the inclusion of the amendment. Senator Mark Warner, who is also Co-Chair of the same committee, seconded the proposal.
The bill will become law after both houses of the US Congress --the House of Representatives and the Senate -- approve it.
The House of Representatives is expected to debate and approve its version of the NDAA sometime before 29 July, that is before American lawmakers leave for the August recess.
In a statement, Senators Cornyn and Warner welcomed the strategic partnership between the US and India and said there is a need to recognise its importance.
Last week, House India Caucus Co-Chair Brad Sherman, along with Congressmen Joe Wilson, Ami Bera, Ted Yoho, George Holding, Ed Case, and Raja Krishnamoorthi introduced a similar legislative proposal in the House FY2020 NDAA that would greatly enhance the US-India relationship.
India was recognised as a major defence partner by the US for the first time in 2016. It allows India to buy more advanced and sensitive technologies from America on a par with other close allies and partners of Washington.