Monday, May 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Hawk sale deal with India on cards

London, May 25
British defence giant BAE systems is poised to clinch the £ 1 billion sale of 66 Hawk trainer jets to the Indian Government, ending a 16-year wait to see the deal done, a media report said here today.

“After years of wrangling, company insiders, together with people close to the Indian Government and the UK diplomatic sources, appear confident that a contract will be signed within weeks,” The Observer newspaper reported.

The issue was raised at a meeting last week between Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, who indicated that a conclusion is close, the report said.

BAE itself has had signals from the British High Commission in Delhi, along with UK Government sources that the deal is not far off.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and other ministers had also taken up the issue with their counterparts in India on several occasions.

A company source told the newspaper, “There have been conversations which indicate it is going through the final committee and is waiting for Cabinet approval. We have had very positive feedback.”

Defence Minister George Fernandes is quoted as saying “it is with the Finance Committee. It will be signed by them before it goes to the Cabinet. The deal is almost certain to go through within weeks.” PTI



Israeli peace plan

Jerusalem, May 25
The Israeli Cabinet today approved a US-backed “roadmap for peace”, accepting for the first time the creation of a Palestinian state. The move was hailed by the White House as “an important step forward” envisioning a Palestinian state by 2005. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Cabinet, despite opposition from several far-Right ministers and members of his own Likud party, endorsed the plan by a 12-7 vote, with four abstentions. PTI


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