Wednesday, December 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

USA clears export of military wares
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 4
India today got a major boost in its defence development programme with the USA announcing its approval for seven equipment export licences which would meet India’s immediate military requirements, including vital components for the light combat aircraft (LCA) and weapon locating radars.

Seven applications for export licence have been approved by the US Departments of State and Defence three years after sanctions were imposed in the wake of the nuclear tests carried out by India. The US Departments of State and Defence are in the process of notifying them to the American Congress, Defence Secretary Yogendra Narain and U.S. Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith told reporters here after concluding the two-day meeting of the Defence Policy Group of the two countries.

It was the first meeting after the 1998 nuclear tests. The next meeting will take place in May, 2002.

The prestigious LCA programme had particularly been affected by the sanctions imposed by the USA following the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998.

The USA also agreed to expeditiously review India’s acquisition priorities, including engines and systems for the LCA, multi-mission maritime aircraft, components for the jet trainer and high performance jet engines.

To assist licensing and sales process in future, the two sides agreed to establish a security cooperation group to manage the defence supply relations between India and the USA. This group will meet in February-March next year.

Mr Feith and Mr Narain said the two countries also discussed the issue of supply of dual technology items which could be used for nuclear weapons and missiles. India has got an assurance from the USA that it would look into the issue.

A joint statement issued after the DPG meeting, said the Joint Technical Group under the DPG, dealing with issues relating to sale of weapons, would meet in February-March next year to discuss the promotion of bilateral ties in the field of defence production and research.

The two sides agreed that the Executive Steering Group of the three services would meet before the end of February next to plan and review military-to-military cooperation and oversee implementation of the visits, exercises and training programmes.

Mr Feith said India had been invited to attend certain exercises under the US National Missile Defence programme. This invitation had been extended only to some “friendly countries”. India would also participate in the NMD “briefings”.

Mr Narain, who led the Indian side at the third meeting of the Indo-US Defence Policy Group, said New Delhi also sought some defence equipment, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and night vision equipment for countering terrorism.

“We need this equipment to effectively fight terrorism...It is appropriate to have these weapons...” Mr Feith, who had a 45-minute meeting with Defence Minister George Fernandes this morning, said relations in the defence field were set to prosper in future, and added that strategic relations between the two countries was an important element in promoting peace and stability in the region.

At the two-day meeting, India and the USA exchanged views on the global campaign against international terrorism. Noting that both India and the USA had been targets of terrorism, the two sides agreed to add a new emphasis in their defence cooperation on counter-terrorism initiatives, including expanding mutual support in this area.Back

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