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Indian Army Chief in US to enhance defence coop

Washington: Army Chief Gen V K Singh on Tuesday began his official visit to the US during which terrorism, situation in the region including Afghanistan and Pakistan, besides bilateral military-to-military ties would top the agenda of his talks with top American military leadership.

A visit to the US Central Command headquarters in Florida is the key feature of his current travel. This is because CENTCOM deals with Afghanistan and Pakistan, while India has been traditionally dealing with the US Pacific Command.

Gen Singh would meet American counterpart Gen James Mattis during his US trip.

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Terrorism, bi-lateral army exercises and current situation in Afghanistan is expected to be some of the top topics of the talks here.

The current situation in Libya and the Middle East, and the increasing assertiveness of China is also expected to come up during the talks here, officials said.

In his meeting with the US military officials, Singh is also likely to discuss the procurement of USD 647 million M-777 ULH from the US through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route for the artillery, which has not inducted a new gun for the last 25 years.

It is believed that the just concluded Defence Policy Group meeting between the two countries gave a final shape to it.

Gen Singh`s visit comes two years after former Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor had come to the US.

The Army chief is also expected to discuss the procurement of the Javelin missile system, which again has been offered to India through the FMS route.

In the last five years, defence relations have been expanding between the two countries under the New Framework for US-India Defence Relations.

The US undertakes the highest number of joint exercises with India amongst all nations that includes the navy-to-navy Malabar and SALVEX, army-to-army Yudhabhyas and aerial `Cope-India` exercises.

Gen Singh will also be inducted into `The Hall of Fame` of the US Army War College, Carlisle, of which he is an alumunus during the visit between March 7 and 12.

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