M A I N   N E W S

Indo-Israel defence ties to continue, says Pranab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 26
The Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, today sought to dispel any misgivings over the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government going back on the steps taken by the previous NDA government in cementing the Indo-Israel ties.

In an informal chat with mediapersons here, he, on being specifically asked about the Indo-Israel ties, said there was convergence of views among coalition partners in the UPA on the country’s security interests.

He said, “In a coalition government, partners can have divergent views over the same issue, but when it comes to the security of the country, there is complete agreement.” To sort out various matters, a common minimum programme (CMP) was being worked out, he said.

In the past six years, India and Israel have entered into major defence deals running into thousands of crores. The deals include supply by Israel of Phalcon air-borne early-warning systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, ground sensors and Travor infantry combat assault rifles.

To another specific question whether the coffin’s deal would be investigated into since the Congress had been leading the protest in Parliament in the last Lok Sabha, Mr Mukherjee said he had already pointed out that some of the issues would be looked into. But, at present, he could not specify those, he said.

He said in the ‘coffingate’ scandal, the protests were not against any individual, but against impropriety committed by the NDA government. He said Mr George Fernandes was re-inducted into the Union Cabinet when the commission probing the Tehelka issue was still to submit its report.

The Defence Minister reasserted that the UPA government would emphasise on transparency in defence purchases without delaying the procurements.

The current programmes regarding upgrading and modernising the armed forces would continue, he said. He ruled out any change in the anti-militancy role of Army. “Internal and external security threat have got inter-linked because of cross-border terrorism and in such conditions there can be no divestment of the Army from its counter-terrorism role,” he said.

He said the terrorist attacks like the one that took place on Sunday last were aimed at frustrating the Indo-Pak peace process.


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