India sending army chief’s aide to US-led meet

July 26th, 2011 - 9:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) In a major snub for the Indian Army chief, General V.K. Singh, the government has rejected his request to attend a US-sponsored meet in Singapore and nominated one of his principal staff officers for the July 28-30 event.

Also, India does not want to be seen as being part of any US-led alliance and hence does not want its army chief to attend the meeting, government sources said here Tuesday.

The rejection of his request was communicated to the army headquarters at the end of May, but the issue had cropped up again after the army chief made a fresh bid to make the government agree to his request, the sources said.

The US is organising a conference of the army chiefs of countries in the Asia-Pacific region in Singapore on the theme “building land forces capacity through multilateral security cooperation”.

“Now, the Director General (Perspective Planning), Lt. Gen. Sumir Singh, will be attending the meeting,” the sources told IANS.

The fresh refusal to send the army chief to the Singapore meet comes close on the heels of Defence Minister A.K. Antony deciding to fix his year of birth as 1950 instead of his request to correct the army headquarters records to 1951, thereby ruling that he will retire in May 2012.

The Singapore conference, sources said, was the seventh in the series of meetings of army chiefs of the region. The reason for rejecting the request of the army chief, sources said, was that in the five of the previous six meets, India was represented only by the army’s vice chief.

“An exception was made in the case of then army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor in 2009, as he had attend the previous meeting as vice chief and the 2009 meeting was a continuation of the previous meet,” the sources said.

Moreover, not all countries in the group sent their chiefs to the meet and many are represented by their respective vice chiefs, the sources said.

“Our engagement with Asia-Pacific countries and the US continues at various levels. However, we do not want to give an impression of being part of any alliance,” the sources added.

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