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Middlemen indispensible in defence deals, says PM
Naveen Kapoor

On Board Air India One, October 14
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today said that the country’s defence purchases cannot take place without the assistance of middlemen associated with the defence industries.

Speaking on board Air India One while returning to Delhi from Helsinki, he, however, said that there should be a mechanism to regulate their activities.

Referring indirectly to the alleged irregularities in the 2000 Barak Missile deal, he said, “It does turn out that the assumptions that one can do without agents require re-appraisal. If agents cannot be done away with, it is very much better that we should know who the agents are and some mechanism like their registration should be explored.”

The Prime Minister’s statement assumes significance in the wake of the recent disclosure relating to the alleged irregularities in the Rs 1460 crore Barak Missile deal that has already put the then Defence Minister George Fernandes in the dock.

Commenting on the joint mechanism to fight terrorism in South Asia, he said that India would test Pakistan after giving them all credible evidence.

“We will give them credible evidence. We feel that there is an involvement of elements in Pakistan,” he said.

Terming his six-day visit to London and Helsinki as “successful and highly productive”, Dr Manmohan Singh said that there has been great appreciation about India’s stand and they have recognised that the country had been a sufferer of the cross-border terrorism for long.

On the Gujarat High Court’s order nullifying U.C. Banerjee’s committee appointment on the Godhra train fire incident, he said that he would review the order and would explore the mechanism of filing a review petition in the higher courts.

Regarding the Indo-US civil nuclear energy cooperation, he said that he was optimistic about it being ratified in the US senate.

“I am hopeful and we have assurances from the US government that they would try to influence the Congress to get it (the Bill ratifying the deal) passed”, Dr Manmohan Singh said. — ANI

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