Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) Seeking to allay apprehensions about the defence framework agreement signed between India and the US recently, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday asserted that the pact signals the US willingness to buttress India's defence capabilities and does not compromise national security in any way.
"The document, more than anything else, signals the US willingness to enhance defence cooperation with India and strengthen our defence capabilities," Mukherjee told the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, in a statement Tuesday.
He alluded to anxieties expressed in parliament and in the press about various implications of the deal, including India's freedom to decide on committing troops in support of the US-led coalition operations in Iraq and elsewhere and New Delhi serving the larger American agenda. Responding to these fears, he said, "Some have expressed concerns that the document adopts vocabulary and language, and therefore the world view of the US; and that it promotes US security interests and not ours, and therefore compromises our security. None of these apprehensions are justified.' "It is in our interest to see how we can exploit this change of attitude to our advantage. It is an enabling document that provides a framework within which specific cooperation can take place," he said. "It is up to us to see how we develop this. This will not be dictated to us. It will be decided by mutual agreement," he asserted. The New Framework Agreement for the US-India Defence Relationship was signed during Mukherjee's visit to the US June 28.
The framework, according to Mukherjee, does not contain any commitments or obligations and updates the agreed minutes on defence relations between India and the US in January 1995. The agreement sets the roadmap for defence ties over the next 10 years and "visualizes an enhanced level of cooperation covering military-to-military relations as well as a defence industrial and technological relationship", said an official statement.
It emphasises cooperation in maintaining security and stability, defeating terrorism, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and protecting the flow of commerce through land, air and sea lanes. The pact was signed ahead of the historic visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US July 18-20. Listing various advantages that can accrue to India if the framework agreement is used in a creative manner, Mukherjee said the defence pact would help promote cooperation with the US "to strengthen and modernise India's armed forces and defence industries." "The pact establishes a new defence procurement and production group under the existing defence policy group to promote a defence, trade, production and technology partnership with the US," said Mukherjee, stressing the role of the pact in increasing India's "manouevrability in international affairs."
--Indo-Asian News Service