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US Defence Secretary, Secretary of State Call on Modi; India May Get 22 Guardian Drones

US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his first meeting with President Donald Trump and discussed ways to further boost the Indo-US strategic ties.

PTI

Updated:June 26, 2017, 11:32 PM IST
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US Defence Secretary, Secretary of State Call on Modi; India May Get 22 Guardian Drones
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis (left) interacts with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington DC on Monday.
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Washington: US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his first meeting with President Donald Trump and discussed ways to further boost the Indo-US strategic ties.

Mattis met Modi amid reports that America will sell 22 Guardian drones to India to bolster its surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities.

The separate meetings between Mattis as well as Tillerson and Prime Minister Modi came ahead of the latter's maiden meeting with President Trump at the White House.

The meetings took place at the Hotel Willard Intercontinental, where the Indian prime minister is staying.

Senior Indian officials, including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval were present during the meetings.

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"Preparing the ground for the meeting between the leaders. Rex W. Tillerson, Secretary of State calls on PM," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Gopal Baglay tweeted on the meeting with the top US diplomat.

While the deal on the 22 Guardian drones worth between USD 2-3 billion has not been formally announced, it is considered to be a "game changer" for the US-India relations as it operationalises the status of "major defence partner".

The designation of India being a "major defence partner" was decided by the previous Obama Administration, and formally approved by the Congress.

According to General Atomics, the Predator Guardian UAV, a variant of the Predator B, can be used for wide-area, long-endurance maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

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