US arms sale to Pak a matter of concern for India: Antony

US arms sale to Pak a matter of concern for India: Antony

Washington: Ahead of his talks with top US officials in Washington, defence minister AK Antony has said he would convey New Delhi’s concerns about supply of American arms to Pakistan as a portion of them is being diverted against India and seek an “early solution" to export control restrictions.

Antony, who arrived in Washington along with a high-power delegation to hold wide-ranging talks with US defence secretary Robert Gates, secretary of state Hillary Clinton and national security adviser Gen (Retd) James Jones among others in the next two days, said he would also call for moving from a buyer-seller relationship to that of transfer of technology and co-production.

“We feel that even though the US is giving arms to Pakistan to fight terrorism, our practical experience is (that) it is always being misused. They are diverting a portion against India. Certainly I will express my concern," he told reporters.

Visiting Washington at the invitation of defence secretary Robert Gates, Antony is accompanied by eastern army commander Lt Gen Bikram Singh and Andaman and Nicobar tri-services command admiral DK Joshi, apart from IAF’s director general (air/operations) air marshal AK Gogoi.

Defence secretary Pradeep Kumar and the defence minister’s adviser Sundaram Krishna are also part of the high-level delegation.

Noting that on the whole Indo-US defence relationship is expanding, Antony said export control restrictions is another “matter of concern" for India.

“We want an early solution to that (export control restrictions)," he said, adding that defence bodies like Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are still on entities’ list.

“Both countries have stake in strengthening this relationship," Antony said, adding that the bilateral defence ties have been steadily strengthening in the recent past.

Responding to a question on recent remarks by the US defence secretary that he would be discussing the fighter jet deal with his Indian counterpart, Antony said he was not in a position to tell who would get the multi-billion dollar contract.

“It is a multi-vendor-situation. Trials are over. I can’t say who will get it," Antony said.

He also said that in the area of defence procurement, India had a very few procurements from the US in the past, but added that in the last few years it has increased steadily in the high-technology area. “Many are in the pipelines... some through multi-vendor routes, many more would come, but which items I can’t say."