- (AFP) - India said it was looking to acquire more
weapon systems from the United States a day after failing to clinch a raft
of billion-dollar defence deals with Russia.
- Defence Minister George Fernandes said India was hoping
to buy military hardware from the US after both sides agreed to boost
especially on counter-terrorism initiatives, the Press Trust of India news
- "We have found common ground for restoring mutual
cooperation in defence ties after the September 11 terror attacks in New
York and Washington," Fernandes said.
- "We are looking at acquiring more sophisticated
weaponry from the US which other nations are not in a position to produce
and deliver at short notice."
- His comments came after talks Friday with traditional
military ally Russia failed to reach any agreement on several defence deals
that could have had far-reaching strategic implications.
- But the two sides did pledge to pursue the deals that
were not finalised despite two days of intense talks in New Delhi between
teams led by Fernandes and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya
- Klebanov and Fernandes hinted at the deadlock on the
leasing of several TU-22 long-range strategic bombers, as well as the
of the ageing Russian aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, by India.
- "The technical discussions have been completed.
The price negotiation is what needs to be done," Fernandes said
- "How much time it will take is too difficult to
forecast at this time."
- There was also no sign during Klebanov's trip of a widely
expected deal on the Indian Navy leasing two Russian nuclear
- Moscow, which had previously leased India a nuclear
is presently pressuring New Delhi to shun Western arms bazaars and instead
pick up Russian hardware such as the MiG-AT advanced jet trainer and an
Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS).
- Almost 70 percent of India's defence assets and military
hardware is Russian.
- But ties between India and the US have been warming
and this week a US delegation of senior commanders from the three wings
of the armed forces were in India to follow-up on the Indo-US Defence
Group (DPG) meeting in December last year which agreed to boost defence
- The US officials met their counterparts in India to
the ground for joint army, air force and naval exercises.
- "The armies and air forces of both the countries
are planning joint exercises as an appreciation of the security environment
in our region and various parts of the world," Fernandes said.
- Two US warships, the USS Antietam and the USS O'Kane,
have already conducted joint maritime exercises with the Indian navy as
part of increasing military cooperation.
- The US and India had strained relations during the Cold
War, when New Delhi tilted toward the Soviet Union, and military
all but stopped in the wake of India's nuclear tests in 1998, which
a raft of US sanctions.
- But relations warmed following former president Bill
Clinton's visit in 2000 and the sanctions were lifted last year after India
joined the US coalition against terrorism.
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