Key defence pacts unlikely during Defence Minister A K Antony’s US visit

New Delhi, Sep 21 (Calcutta Tube) Defence Minister A.K. Antony is visiting the US this weekend on a two-day trip, but it was unlikely to witness inking of key military pacts that have been pending since years between the two countries, sources said Tuesday.

The Sep 27-28 trip – Antony’s second to the US after taking over as defence minister – is on an invitation from his American counterpart Robert Gates, an official said.

Accompanied by Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, Lt Gen. Bikram Singh, Vice Admiral D.K. Joshi and Air Marshal A.K. Gogoi, the minister will hold talks with Gates on expanding military cooperation between the two countries.

‘Security issues – both regional and global – are likely to come up prominently during the talks. The two sides will also discuss measures to expand defence cooperation in various areas,’ the official said.

However, sources told IANS that the high profile visit is unlikely to spring any surprise as the two countries won’t be signing any military pacts that have been pending since years.

The sources said that India is still wary of signing the pacts which include an agreement on sharing US military technology and guaranteeing each other logistics support in operations.

The pacts include the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), the End-User agreement and the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA). These agreements will ease high-tech defence exports to India.

The US is trying hard to ensure that most of the agreements with India are formalised ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit which is unlikely now.

According to the US law, sensitive military technology can be transferred to another country only after signing the CISMOA to protect classified security data.

India last year concluded a $2.1-billion (over Rs.9,400 crore) contract for eight Boeing-made P8I Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft and is also looking to purchase 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft worth $ 5.8 billion (Rs.26,100 crore).

Such platforms come equipped with cutting-edge command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, which can be transferred only if the CISMOA is signed.

The sources said India is negotiating and more time was required to resolve differences.

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