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No US pressure against Agni-III, says US General
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 5
The USA today sought to alley all speculation over possible pressure from Washington on New Delhi against the testing of intermediate range ballistic missile Agni-III, without pointing towards Pakistan, said other countries in the region had carried out similar testing.

America’s highest ranking military officer and Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace addressing the media here after his parleys with top Indian defence brass said that there was no pressure from Washington. He added that India was a sovereign nation and could decide on its own the course of action it would take.

“Whether or not to test (Agni III) is India’s decision. There are other countries in the region who have tested missiles,” he said, when asked specifically whether there was any pressure from the US on India against the testing of the missile which was capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

General Pace, who had earlier in the day held talks with the top Indian defence brass in the backdrop of growing military cooperation between the two countries, said when countries have the confidence in their capability and ability to use weapons, there was no need to govern them.

General Pace, while commenting on the growing Indo-US military relations said this was a golden opportunity between the two very vibrant and prosperous democracies of the world to develop their relations in a bid to bring about stability in the region.

The American General also defended Washingtion’s decision of giving US $ 370 million military aid to Pakistan by linking it to Islamabad providing assistance to the troops to fight Taliban in Afghanistan.

On Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which India is refusing to sign under the present format, General Pace again said India was a sovereign nation and it was upto it to decide whether this treaty was good or not for it. He however added that 70 nations had decided to sign it under the present format and they have collectively had a significant impact on the proliferation of WMDs.

General Pace who earlier arrived here on a three day visit, met Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee Admiral Arun Prakash and the Army chief, Gen JJ Singh, and in a brief comment said, “His trip was to familiarise himself with Indian military leadership. He also met Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee later in the evening.

General Pace, who is heading a high level tri-service delegation, was given an impressive inter-services guard of honour on his arrival for talks at South Block.

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