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Wednesday, 4 June 2008

From Today's Papers - 4 Jun

Defence self-reliance must: Antony
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 3
Defence minister A.K. Antony today made a strong pitch for self-reliance saying a country like India could not go on depending on one country or the other for its defence requirements, as we have had bitter experiences in the past.

Nations are unwilling to part with strategic defence technologies, or at best willing to provide previous generation tactical systems and that too on unacceptable terms and conditions. In such a scenario, there is a strong need to optimise self-reliance in these areas, said the minister while addressing a meeting of the parliamentary consultative committee on defence here today.

Antony also played the “peacemaker” between the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the end user -- the armed forces. The minister made its clear that both had to work with greater synergy to achieve the goal of self-reliance and minimise our over-dependence on other nations.

The minister was not happy over public spats through the media over various projects being under taken by the DRDO. Speaking at the meeting of the parliamentary consultative committee attached to his ministry here today, he said the DRDO had a “crucial role in providing strategic defence with suitable delivery systems to the nation”.

Antony complimented the DRDO for taking a significant step towards developing ballistic missile defence when in December 2007 an exo-atmospheric interceptor missile killed a hostile missile off the Orissa coast. He said with this India joined an elite club consisting of nations such as the USA, Russia, China and Israel, which possessed this capability. Listing other achievements of the DRDO, Antony said it had also developed tactical systems such as missiles and radars, electronic warfare systems, SONARS, torpedoes, armaments, light combat aircraft Tejas, unmanned aerial vehicle, main battle tank Arjun and BrahMos Missile and launched aircraft upgrading programme.

The defence minister said, “We are now entering a new era - an era in which we are not going to be only a buyer. We have devised the policy of the offset clause, a key element of which is transfer of technology. This will lead to a strong industrial base for the country.”

Taking part in the discussion, the MPs, joined the defence minister in complimenting the DRDO for their dedicated and exemplary service to the nation for the last 50 years. They also made a special mention of the DRDO’s recent string of successes in missile technology. They, however, expressed concern at project delays and quality of some of the products developed by the DRDO over the years.

Antony’s missile message

New Delhi, June 3: Defence minister A.K. Antony today said the government had asked the Defence Research and Development Organisation to cut down dependence on foreign collaborations in missile development even as the Left asked for greater transparency on joint ventures with Israel.

Antony was speaking to the members of the parliamentary consultative committee on defence. Left members P.R. Rajan and Shamik Lahiri are understood to have asked for details of a missile development joint venture with Israel.

Antony and DRDO head M. Natarajan, who is the scientific adviser to the defence minister, said each joint venture was vetted before being signed.

The Centre has effectively put on hold a joint venture for a Rs 10,000-crore medium-range missile, to be co-developed by the DRDO’s Defence Research and Development Laboratory and the Israel Aircraft Industries. This follows a CBI probe into a deal through which the Barak ship missile defence systems were procured by the navy.

Boundary issue top agenda during Pranab’s China visit
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 3
Positive signals are emanating from Beijing as external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee reaches Guangzhou on Wednesday on a four-day official visit to China, the first in six years by an Indian foreign minister.

Mukherjee will be inaugurating the new Indian consulate in Guangzhou.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang has been quoted by the Chinese media as saying Beijing viewed Mukherjee’s visit as important. Qin also stated that the two neighbours did not view each other as a threat and underlined the need for a fair, reasonable and acceptable solution to the boundary issue.

“The two sides have reached a consensus that both are neighbours and will not regard each other as a threat," Qin said on the eve of Mukherjee’s visit.

Mukherjee and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi are expected to cover a wide gamut of bilateral relations during their formal talks. However, the focus is expected to be on the boundary issue. The two ministers would also be setting dates for the next round of special representative-level talks on the boundary dispute.

Indications are that the two special representatives - India’s National Security Advisor M. K. Narayanan and Chinese vice foreign minister Dai Bingguo - would be meeting soon, Indian officials here said.

From New Delhi’s point of view, the Kailash Mansaro-var Yatra would figure prominently during the Pranab-Yang talks. The Yatra is currently hanging in balance as China has cancelled first three batches that were originally scheduled to be in China within the first half of June. It is understood that Mukherjee would be taking up the issue and urge the Chinese government to accommodate all batches.

The visit is being considered significant as it does against the backdrop of recent nation-wide protests in India over the Olympics torch relay. It will provide an opportunity to India to reassure Beijing that there is no change in New Delhi’s position that Tibet is an autonomous region of China.

The officials said the two sides would also discuss steps needed to be taken to give an impetus to the implementation of certain decisions taken during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China to enhance trade and economic cooperation and an accelerate the bilateral relationship in the science and technology field.

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