M A I N   N E W S

IAF jumps the gun on relief supply to USA
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 6
In a clear case of the Indian Air Force jumping the gun, the IAF issued a Press release this afternoon giving details of the first-ever relief supply mission from India to the Hurricane Katrina-hit United States, but the Ministry of External Affairs late tonight was still negotiating with Washington on the nitty-gritties of the aid despatch.

The IAF Press note said "An IL-76 aircraft of the Indian Air Force would be carrying relief supplies to New Orleans, USA, which has been badly affected by the Hurricane Katrina. The IAF IL-76 is expected to depart from Palam IAF base on September 7 in the morning. The aircraft would be carrying 25 tonnes of relief material. The planned arrival of the relief material in USA is on September 9." It even gave details of the relief supplies which would be sent-- 50,000 first aid kits, small tarps, blankets, 25,000 cots and pillows, half a million packed rations.

The factual position was otherwise. Till about 9 pm, several hours after the IAF Press release, the Americas Division of the MEA was trying to work out a plan and logistics for sending the aid to the US. The Joint Secretary (Americas), Mr S Jaishanker, was negotiating with the American diplomats in Washington till late in the evening to work out the logistics.

The Tribune was given to understand that there was no way the IAF aircraft could leave for the US tomorrow. The earliest an IAF aircraft can fly for the US is September 8.


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