Indo-US defence deals unlikely during Obama’s visit

Indo-US defence deals unlikely during Obama’s visit

New Delhi: India and the US are unlikely to wrap up any defence deals during the high-profile visit of President Barack Obama early next month, defence minister A K Antony indicated.

“I don’t think so," he told reporters on being asked if the defence ministry was expecting any deals to be signed during Obama’s visit commencing from November six.

India and the US are in talks to finalise a deal for 10 C-17 transport aircraft for the IAF estimated to be worth $5.8 billion.

“The talks are in its final stages," Antony said in response to a query on the C-17 deal.

India is also interested in buying 24 Harpoon missiles for its Air Force at an estimated cost of $700 million. Apart from these purchases, the two sides are also holding discussions for foundational agreements in areas such as communication interoperability, logistics support and geo-spacial fields.

He said the whole government was coordinating the US President’s visit in which defence ministry was playing a part.

Asked about threats from fidayeens during Obama’s visit, Antony said though there were possible threat perceptions during high level visits, government took all measures to counter them.

“Whenever high level visits take place, there is always possibility of threats. We are putting all measures in place to meet all problems. We are capable of handling it, as we have proved during the Commonwealth Games by conducting it successfully," he said.

To a question, the minister said there were 42 terror training camps which were active in Pakistan sand a new element was women were also being trained as terrorists.

“Some elements are training terrorists against India. Even now, 42 terror camps exists across the border. They are training even ladies," he said.

But, he said, Indian armed forces were vigilant 24X7 to defeat these terrorists.

“They (armed forces) are ready always. Country is safe in the hands of our armed forces," he said.

Calling the Mumbai terror attacks two years ago as “an eye opener" to Indian security establishment, he said the importance of coastal security had dawned on the government only after the 26/11 incidents.

“For us, 26/11 incidents in Mumbai was an eye opener. It is now all the more important due to the security situation around India. We have to take more care in strengthening the coastal security," he said.

“All the while, we thought land border is only the real border. Strengthening the security along the land borders was our only concern. We thought coastal areas have their own protection from the seas. Gone are those days. We have to be more careful," he added.

That was why the government was giving more attention to the coastal security now by strengthening coast guard and coastal police, he added.