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India Open To Buying Military Equipment From Us: Defence Minister

India will buy as much military equipment as England, Europe and America want to sell it.
New Delhi (AFP) Mar 27, 2005
Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee Saturday welcomed an offer by the United States to boost missile defense and other security initiatives including the proposed sale of military equipment.

"Naturally, we will discuss them (the proposals) and if military aircraft and other weapons, needed for our national interest, are available from the US, we will certainly consider them," he was quoted saying by the Press Trust of India in Calcutta.

Washington offered to step up a strategic dialogue with New Delhi Friday that include military and high-tech cooperation as well as expanded economic and energy cooperation with the aim of making India a major world power by the 21st century.

Mukherjee noted "cooperation in economic and other areas between US and India has increased manifold, but there is so far no defence agreement between the two countries."

The US proposal came even as it announced plans to beef up the military of New Delhi's nuclear rival, Pakistan, by selling it an undetermined number of sophisticated F-16 combat planes.

However, a US official said his government was prepared to "respond positively" to an Indian request for information on American initiatives to sell New Delhi the next generation of multi-role F-18 combat aircraft.

Beyond the possible sale of fighter planes, the US was ready to discuss the more fundamental issue of defense transformation with India, including systems in areas such as command and control, early warning and missile defense, he added.

India was a Cold War ally of the Soviet Union and maintains close ties with Iran, which the United States accuses of developing nuclear weapons and supporting Middle Eastern extremist groups.

Traditionally, it has bought the majority of its military equipment from Russia, France and Britain, but of late has evinced interest in the military hardware of US defence firms.

The United States and India signed a landmark agreement last January to share advanced technology, including in peaceful nuclear applications.

earlier related report
US, India Discuss Military Deal Amid Improving Ties
Washington DC (AFP) Mar 23, 2005
India's chief of naval staff Admiral Arun Prakash, who is on a US visit, discussed purchase of American equipment and systems as part of stepped up defense cooperation, it was announced here Wednesday.

Details of the purchase were not announced but New Delhi had said this week that a contract was likely to be signed for the purchase of submarine rescue vehicles.

India is also reportedly working out a deal for the purchase of 10 retrofitted Lockheed Martin P3C Orion long-range naval maritime spy aircraft to plug gaps in reconnaissance capability.

Prakash, on a 10-day visit to the United States since March 19, held talks with top defense officials "which focused on ways to further India-US naval cooperation including joint exercises and acquisition of US equipment and systems for the Indian Navy," the Indian embassy said in a statement.

"Both sides reiterated their determination to strengthen all aspects of defense cooperation in the context of the transformed India-US relationship," it said.

"The two sides reaffirmed that the bilateral relationship has been on a steadily ascendant trajectory in recent years and has gained greater strategic content," the embassy said.

India's vice chief of naval staff Yashwant Prasad told reporters in New Delhi this week that the two countries were in intense negotiations and likely to sign a contract for US cover for Indian submarines in distress and for the purchase of submarine rescue vehicles by the year end.

India and the United States had almost finalised a contract for the US navy to rescue Indian submarines in distress when US sanctions following New Delhi's nuclear tests in 1998 derailed the deal, Prasad had said.

The supply of submarine rescue vehicles along with flying kits and P3C Orions would be the second largest defence deal between the two countries in recent years, news reports have said.

Military relations between India and the United States, on opposite sides during the Cold War, have thawed in recent years with both nations holding a series of joint defense exercises over the last 18 months.

India played a key back-up role in US-led relief efforts following the December 26 tsunami disaster that hit a dozen countries along the Indian Ocean and left more than 270,000 dead.

"The US side welcomed the excellent cooperation between the two countries in organizing relief operations during the recent tsunami disaster and expressed admiration for the speed and scale on which India deployed its naval and air assets in this effort," the statement said.

Admiral Prakash's itinerary includes visits to US Navy bases and facilities at Norfolk, Newport, Colorado Springs, Seattle and Hawaii.

At Newport, the naval chief will address students and faculty of the Naval War College on current maritime issues including the security environment in the Indian Ocean region and the role played by the Indian Navy.

All rights reserved. � 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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Washington (UPI) Mar 20, 2005
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appears to have offered India an attractive incentive in the form of civilian nuclear technology in a bid to derail a planned gas pipeline from Iran to India.

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