Saturday, January 19, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India, USA sign defence pact
Indian bid to diffuse tension yielding results: George

US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes meet reporters
US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, left, and Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes meet reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday.

Defence Minister George Fernandes walks past a Marine guard
Defence Minister George Fernandes walks past a Marine guard as he leaves the White House on Thursday. — AP/PTI photos

Washington, January 18
Signalling a softening of war rhetoric, Defence Minister George Fernandes today said India’s intense diplomatic efforts to end the stand-off with Pakistan was yielding “substantial” results.

Mr Fernandes, who is on a six-day visit to the USA, said there was evidence that these efforts were leading to results.

He, however, made it clear that de-escalation of Indian military build-up was contingent on Pakistan taking “specific and concrete steps” to stop cross-border terrorism.

“We are engaged in intense diplomatic efforts,” the Defence Minister, who arrived here on Wednesday, told reporters after hectic parleys with US leaders.

Asked under what conditions India would think of withdrawal of its troops amassed on the border, Mr Fernandes said cross-border terrorism should end and Pakistan should hand over the 20 terrorists who had committed “criminal offences” in India.

Mr Fernandes dismissed as “unsubstantiated” US media reports that the Bush administration had brought pressure on Israel to defer the sale of three Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control System planes to India in view of the heightened tensions with Pakistan.

“We have been categorically assured that there was no change in the US stand on the Phalcon transfer,” said Mr Fernandes who met US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday. The Phalcon deal would go through, he added.

Mr Fernandes said he had been assured by US leaders that pending cases of supply of defence equipment and spare parts to India such as engines and other systems for the light combat aircraft were in “an advanced stage of processing” and a decision would be conveyed shortly.

In the area of military cooperation, India and the USA yesterday signed the General Security on Military Information Agreement which will facilitate exchange of classified defence-related technical information between the two countries.

The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Richard Myers, would visit India next month, Mr Fernandes said. General Myers’s visit would be followed by a reciprocal visit to the USA by the Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Army Staff, Gen S. Padmanabhan, he said.

Mr Fernandes met Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. He is leading a delegation that includes Defence Secretary Yogendra Narain, Additional Secretary Ajay Prasad and Additional Secretary (Defence Production) Dhirendera Singh. UNIBack

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