India, US, work to tie up loose ends of military purchases

June 5th, 2009 - 3:23 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 5 (IANS) A draft for a model end use agreement for all military purchases made by India from the US may come up for discussion during US Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns’ visit to the country June 10-13, an official said Thursday.
“The US law demands on site inspection (of the equipments sold) which means that people entering our bases and forward areas which is unacceptable to us. We have been stressing that the inspection can be through records rather than of the article,” a defence official said on condition of anonymity.

With the Indian armed forces on an elaborate modernization plan, the end user verification agreement is necessary to govern all the future purchases from the US instead of dealing with them on a case-to-case basis which often result in delays.

“The US has been trying to stress that verification clauses will be applicable only when there are credible complaints of misuse. The US has stated that the products can be used for internal security, civic action, legitimate self defence but the question is how much one can depend on trust as theoretically it will leave us vulnerable,” the official added.

In April this year, the US authorities set new conditions for the agreement to a visiting Indian delegation.

“The agreement is under consideration. We have exchanged drafts with the US on three occasions. The last one we gave was earlier this year. They have responded saying that some clauses are required to be worded differently,” he said.

One case is the purchase of three Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) for transporting the president, the prime minister and VIPs.

“The US has provided a certain article for the BBJ for which they have agreed to inspect after it is detached from the aircraft and at a different site,” the official informed.

“Ideally we would not like to have this contract at all. We do not have this with other countries. We just give an undertaking. The US has it under statute so we have to factor their concerns. We are trying to work around it,” he added.

Apart from the end-user agreement, some other pacts too are pending with the US. These are the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) on cashless transfers of fuel and supplies between the two militaries that are then balanced at the end of the year and the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) that will enable the two armies to communicate on a common platform.

“The sequence of priority will be first end user agreement, then CISMOA followed by LSA,” the official.

Burns’ trip to Delhi will also set the stage for Hillary Clinton’s first visit to India after she became secretary of state early this year. Her visit is likely this July.

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