Sale of military equipment: US wants India to accept conditions

November 6th, 2008 - 12:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Nov 6 (IANS) India would have to agree to “certain conditions” if it wants to purchase equipment from the US military, a top American official said here without specifying what they would be. “They (India) would have to agree certain conditions that we think are very important,” Admiral Timoty Keating, commander of the US Pacific Joint Command, asserted during his interaction with foreign correspondents in New York Wednesday.

Keating, however, refrained from elaborating further on the “conditions” and said the issue comes under the jurisdiction of the US State Department, which is currently conducting negotiations with India on the matter.

Referring to the tender floated by India to purchase fighter planes, Keating said: “They want to replace their aging fighters. The United States has two fighters in the programme, but the decision has not been made yet. We are cautiously hopeful.”

When asked what impact the India-US civilian nuclear deal would have on the military relationship between the two countries, Keating said: “…not directly. I do not think it is quid pro one for one. There are second or third order effect to this signal event - the nuclear deal.”

He said there are some areas where the US military was still working with India.

Keating acknowledged that the military relationship between the two countries had improved during the last eight years, which he said had been the goal of the Bush administration. “We have got a very strong relationship with the Indian military.”

“The spirit of cooperation, the degree of mutual engagement opportunities, the exchange of personnel, participation of military exercises is significantly better today from our perspective than it was eight years ago. I am assured that the Indian leaders feel the same way,” he said.

Keating appreciated India’s response to the recent terror attacks and termed them “balanced and matured”.

Keating, who visited India for the first time in the mid 1980s when he was in the staff of the Pacific Command, is planning to visit India in the next five to six months. He would be meeting Indian Navy chief Admiral Suresh Mehta in Indonesia next week on the sidelines of the annual Chief of the Defense Conference which will see representation from about 40 countries.

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