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Rediff.com  » News » Row over diplomat not to affect Indo-US defence ties: Antony

Row over diplomat not to affect Indo-US defence ties: Antony

December 31, 2013 21:22 IST

Indo-United States defence ties will not be impacted due to the issue relating to Indian diplomat Devayani Khobragade, Defence Minister AK Antony on Tuesday said.

"I do not think that the issue will affect defence relations," he said replying to a question by reporters on the impact of the arrest of the 39-year-old senior diplomat in New York on December 12 on the charges of underpaying her maid and falsifying the contract documents.

To another question, he said Indian armed forces will have to remain vigilant 24x7 to safeguard the country's borders as it continues to maintain peace and stability with China and Pakistan.

"On the one side you must continue to sincerely maintain peace and stability along both borders, at the same time Indian armed forces will have to 24x7 be vigilant to safeguard our borders,” Antony said.

Asked about the frequent border tensions with China in 2013 and how he foresaw the coming year, he said he was not expecting any miracles.

"Unless both countries are able to find an everlasting solution to the border dispute and are able to demarcate the boundary, I cannot rule out the possibility of occurrences of such incidents', he said.

India shares a land border of 3,500 km with China, he said. "Following the recent border cooperation agreement between the two countries, even though incidents are still taking place, unlike in the past, immediately both countries are engaging and without long delays, the issues are settled.

That is one silver lining," he said. "Total elimination of incursions you cannot expect unless and until the border is fully secure," he said adding, the border cooperation will help the two countries to sort out the issue without much delay.

With regard to Pakistan, Antony said even though this year there was maximum number of ceasefire violations, of late since the last few weeks, such incidents were less.

Earlier, speaking after commissioning the Coast Guard Fast Patrol vessel 'Abheek', Antony said five warships would be commissioned each year in the next five years from Indian shipyards.

Pointing that the ship building industry was in deep crisis as no orders were coming following the global economic crisis, he said the defence ministry will explore the possibilities of getting more defence orders for the Cochin Shipyard Ltd.

"The ministry will not turn its back on the CSL and I would sincerely work in this regard," he said adding the shipyard should further shorten its delivery schedules.

Vice Admiral Anurag G Thapliyal, Director General of Indian Coast Guard, said Abheek is the 23rd commissioning that the maritime security agency had achieved this year.

This was not only a testimony to the country's ship building capabilities, but also the fast paced modernisation of the Coast Guard fleet which today boasts of more than 90 ships and craft and over 60 aircraft.

The ICGS Abheek, commanded by Commandant Manoj Kumar Negi, has a crew of 39 personnel and would be based at Chennai. Propelled by water jet with a maximum speed of 33 Knots and an endurance of 1,500 nautical miles, the ship is capable of undertaking multifarious tasks such as surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue and medical evacuation.

The ship has an integrated gun mount with indigenous fire control system. Union Minister K V Thomas, CSL Chairman and Managing Director Commodre K Subramaniam were among those who participated.

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