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Home > India > News > PTI

Controversial agreement on agenda with US defence secy

February 14, 2008 19:33 IST
Last Updated: February 14, 2008 20:05 IST

The controversial Logistics Support Agreement and expansion of United States military sales to India are expected to figure prominently during the two-day visit of Defence Secretary Robert Gates from February 26.

During the security dialogue, the two sides will review their strategic cooperation in various fields and explore ways to enhance the ties during the visit, sources said.

Gates will hold talks with Defence Minister A K Antony on bilateral cooperation and regional issues of mutual interest, considering the growing threat from terrorism emanating from India's neighbourhood.

To be accompanied by a 50-member military-cum-business delegation, Gates is also likely to call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images], External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and National Security Adviser M K Narayanan.

The two sides are expected to discuss the progress on signing of the LSA, under which the two countries will provide their bases, fuel and other kinds of logistical support to
each other's fighters and warships.

The agreement has been under negotiation for over a year, with India insisting that it be renamed.

The pact is before the Cabinet Committee on Security for clearance. The CCS met in New Delhi today under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but it was not clear whether the issue came up.

The Left parties have been opposed to this agreement, arguing that it will make India a party to America's wrong designs.

The US has, however, sought to allay fears, insisting that it would not bind India but benefit its military by improving its operational ability. US Ambassador David Mulford recently said the Indian military would need such type of cooperation and change as its capabilities grow.

During Gates' visit, the two sides are also expected to discuss the Container Security Initiative, which India is ready to sign. The two countries will review broad cooperation in the field of defence and discuss ways to enhance it.

Mulford said the defence relations between the two countries had witnessed enormous growth over the last few years, marked by exchange of visits and joint exercises.

The US is looking forward to having cooperation on the joint production of C-130J transport planes besides eyeing the contract for 126 multi-role fighter planes.

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