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Clinton pitches for India to buy US defense equipments

By Lalit K Jha
September 29, 2010 09:33 IST
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As India goes ahead with its plan to modernise the armed forces, US has pitched for India to buy defense equipments from American companies. "We think we have the finest military hardware in the world, and if India is upgrading its defense capabilities, they should buy American," State Department spokesman, P J Crowley told reporters in response to a question on the meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Minister A K Antony at the Foggy Bottom headquarters.

"I believe our understanding is that some of those decisions are coming up fairly soon. But this is an Indian process, but we're pleased that US companies are competing," said Crowley, according to whom the two leaders discussed a wide range of issues including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The current situation in Kashmir did not come up during the talks as US, despite repeated pressure from Pakistan, considers Kashmir a domestic issue for India. "They agreed that India and US have a mutual interest in a stable Afghanistan, and the Secretary welcomed India's contribution in terms of diplomacy and development in building its own relationship with Afghanistan," he said, adding that they also talked about a mutual interest in expanding defense partnership between the two countries.

Procurement of military hardware by Indian forces and the US having the best technology figured in the Pentagon talks between Antony and Defence Secretary Robert Gates. "We in the US and our companies are very happy to be a supplier for India's modernisation activities," a senior Defense official said.

Pentagon believes that US provides the best technology, the best solutions for a range of issues. There are a range of defense trade issues where US companies provide by far the best technology, US officials believe.

US is encouraged that India is looking to broaden its suppliers base beyond what it had previously, officials said. "I am glad that they are looking at the US solutions and I do believe that US solutions provide some of the best opportunities for a proficient and capable Indian force," the official said.

Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon arrived in Washington to hold discussions related to the visit of the US President Barack Obama to India in November. During his stay over the next few days, he is scheduled to meet his American counterpart General (retired) James Jones, Clinton, Gates and a number of influential Congressmen.

Menon would also interact with the opinion builders and academicians at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace for a discussion in advance of Obama's visit to India.

The US senate has approved the transfer of two Osprey-class minehunter coastal ships to India. The two minehunter ships are Kingfisher (MHC-56) and Cormorant (MHC-57). Both were decommissioned in 2007 and now awaiting its to India.

Osprey-class coastal minehunters are designed to find, classify, and destroy moored and bottom naval mines from vital waterways. They use sonar and video systems, cable cutters and a mine detonating device that can be released and detonated by remote control.

Touted as world's second largest minehunters, they are constructed entirely of fibre-glass and are designed to survive the shock of underwater explosions. Their primary mission is reconnaissance, classification, and neutralisation of all types of moored and bottom mines in littoral areas, harbours and coastal waterways. The ships are equipped with a high definition, variable-depth sonar, and a remotely-operated, robotic submarine used to neutralise mines.

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