Washington: Top American Senators have asked the Obama administration to give a go ahead to co-development and co-production of military weapon systems with India.

They stressed that closer defence ties with India were in the interest of both countries and said that a strategic and military tie-up should be the pillar of this relationship.

The comments from Senators John Cornyn and Mark Warner come ahead of Deputy Secretary of Defence Ashton B Carter's India visit next week and amid moves by the Obama administration to ease restrictions on export of strategic dual-use technology.

In a letter to Carter, the two Senators said they believe it is time to consider the potential for a US partnership with India to co-develop and co-produce military weapon systems.

Cornyn, a Republican, and Warner, a Democrat, are the co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus. With 38 Senators, the Senate India Caucus is the largest of country-specific caucuses in the US Senate.

"We see the partnership between our two democracies as critical to the maintenance and expansion of a rules-based international system that promotes freedom, democracy, security, prosperity, and the rule of law in the 21st century," Cornyn and Warner wrote in the letter to Carter, which was also released to press.

"Recent US arms sales have benefited the US and India alike, increasing commonality of military equipment platforms, providing expanded opportunities to conduct joint military exercises, and contributing to security in the Indo-Pacific region," they wrote.

"With these interests in mind, and with the goal of further expanding US-India defence trade, we encourage you to actively engage with your Indian counterparts to develop ways to improve the compatibility of the defence acquisition systems of the United States and India," the top US lawmakers wrote.

The two Senators urged Carter to include in his discussions with Indian officials two important focus areas -- ways to improve the compatibility of US and Indian defence acquisition systems and potential opportunities for co-development and co-production of defence equipment with India.

"As India undertakes its expansive military modernization programme – projected to cost an estimated USD 80 billion by 2015 – numerous prospects exist for the US to further expand defence trade and cooperation with India," they said.

"As we know you agree, recent US arms sales have benefited the US and India alike, increasing commonality of military equipment platforms, providing expanded opportunities to conduct joint military exercises, and contributing to security in the Indo-Pacific region," the Senators wrote.

"With these interests in mind, and with the goal of further expanding US-India defence trade, we encourage you to actively engage with your Indian counterparts to develop ways to improve the compatibility of the defence acquisition systems of the United States and India," they said.

When asked about the letter, Pentagon spokesperson Catherine Wilkinson said: "We appreciate the Senate India Caucus's support of our continued efforts to expand defence cooperation with India. Carter's trip highlights our strong and sustained commitment to this issue."

(Agencies)

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