Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 4
Three days after a top Admiral from the US invited India to join a four-nation grouping to patrol areas like the South China Sea, New Delhi has outrightly rejected the idea saying it has so far not considered it.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, on being asked about the statement by US Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris, said: “Our viewpoint will come, if at all we consider it. As of now, India has never taken part in any joint patrol; the question of joint patrol does not arise.”
“If we take any decision, the Ministry of Defence will brief you very clearly,” Parrikar said.
Parrikar’s opinion is line with New Delhi existing policy of keeping away from any such grouping that may anger China which is locked in a territorial dispute with six other nations.
On March 2, Admiral Harris invited India to join in a four-nation grouping to jointly patrol seas and air space over contested waters.
Admiral Harris, speaking at a function in New Delhi said: “India, Japan, Australia, the United States and so many other like-minded nations can aspire to patrol together anywhere international law allows. The idea of safeguarding freedom of access to international waters and airspace is not something new for us to ponder.”
He had cited the words of the US Ambassador to India Richard Verma to buttress his views: “I echo Ambassador Verma’s vision that, in the not too distant future, American and Indian Navy vessels steaming together will become a common and welcome sight throughout Indo-Asia-Pacific waters, as we work together to maintain freedom of the seas for all nations”.
Considering the $5.3 trillion dollars in trade that traverses each year from the Indian Ocean and through the South China Sea, we all have a vested interest in ensuring our region remain secure, stable, and prosperous.
'Adequate funds for Rafale'IANS
The government has kept "adequate money" for the purchase of Rafale fighter jets from France while provisions have been made to continue the process of raising a mountain strike corps, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said here.
Addressing a press conference here, he said the total defence budget for 2016-17 was Rs 3,41,000 crore, including defence pensions, and this came to 17.23 per cent of overall expenditure of Rs 19,78,060 crore.
As Rs 70,000 crore had been allocated in this year's budget for defence acquisition, he said that excluding defence pensions, the budget figure was Rs 2,59,000 crore, which was 13.09 per cent of overall expenditure.
To a query on the purchase of Rafale fighter jets, which has been stuck over price negotiations with France, Parrikar said that the government had "kept adequate money for Rafale deal".
"I am a tough negotiator. Let me save money for the nation," he said in answer to another query.
Answering a query on a China-centric mountain strike corps, which was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in September 2013, Parrikar said: "Whatever arrangements need to be made, have been done."
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