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What could US defence secretary Chuck Hagel discuss in today's meeting with Sushma Swaraj?

Friday, 8 August 2014 - 11:30am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna webdesk

United States Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel has arrived in New Delhi on a three-day visit where he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and India's National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

Hagel met Swaraj on Friday morning. His visit immediately follows the cabinet approval of 49% foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence in the country. 

The cabinet approved full FDI in railways and 49% FDI in defence, a follow up on the promise that Arun Jaitley had made in his maiden budget. 

However, the details of the FDI says India must gain in terms of technology from the foreign partner and move towards building defence equipment in its own land to help save crucial foreign exchange reserves.

Media reports suggest Hagel will be meeting senior executives of Indian companies like Bharat Forge, L&T, Mahindra Group, Tata Sons, Reliance Industries, and Pipavav, as well as US companies in India such as Honeywell, Raytheon, BAE Systems and Textron.

Hagel and Swaraj will keep in mind the foreign policy of each of the nations, especially the two major geopolitical concerns: Russia and Israel. While both countries are seen as closer to Israel, they have different stands on Russia. 

The US and the European Union (EU) have issued sanctions on various Russian companies for its alleged role in the Ukrainian crisis, and Russia has, in retaliation, banned all food imports from the west.

Hagel's visit – which follows visits by other two US secretaries, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker – must be essentially seen as a bridge building exercise between the two countries after the change of regime in India. Mots importantly it paves the way for Narendra Modi's visit to the US in October.

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