No expansion of India-US military ties: Antony
Defence Minister AK Antony says despite strong suggestions from Washington, there is no "agenda" for expanding India-US ties beyond the current joint exercises' level.india Updated: Dec 16, 2006 17:31 IST
Despite strong suggestions from Washington, there is no "agenda" for expanding India-US ties beyond the current joint exercises' level, Defence Minister AK Antony declared in New Delhi on Saturday.
"We seek better military cooperation with all countries, including the US, but it is not on the agenda to expand these (beyond conducting joint exercises)," he said at a press conference in New Delhi on the sidelines of the annual Vijay Diwas celebrations.
The issue had been last discussed at a December 8 meeting between US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns and Indian Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt when Washington reiterated its suggestion that New Delhi contribute to the coalition forces in Iraq.
Dutt is reported to have shot this down on the ground that this would not only involve a substantial policy move and that it had been prohibited by a parliamentary resolution in 2003, when the proposal was first made.
Dutt is also reported to have pointed out that Indian troops could only serve under the UN flag, even when this involved chapter seven missions meaning that Indian troops could open fire if they were threatened.
Earlier this year, there were briefings for Indian diplomats at Brussels on the possibility of Indian troops serving under the NATO flag. The issue also figured during the India-US defence policy group meeting in New Delhi November 15-16 at which Under Secretary for Defence Eric Edelman led the US delegation.
The India-US militaries have been engaged in a series of exercises since 2002, when ties between the two countries went on the upswing after cooling off in the wake of the 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests.