ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Defence Ties with US

The visit of the US secretary of defence, Frank Carlucci, earlier this month provided yet another occasion for demonstration of the government of India's news management prowesses. Reports in the newspapers, obviously based on official briefings, on the eve of Carlucci's arrival suggested that the purpose of the visit was to have "a frank exchange of views on Pakistan's nuclear programme and acquisition of sophisticated weapons". Later when Carlucci's meetings with ministers and officials of the government of India were under way, press reports again suggested that the main focus of the talks was the Indian government's effort to make the Reagan administration see reason and scale down the supply of sophisticated arms to Pakistan, especially in view of the projected withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. While this subject must no doubt have come up during the US defence secretary's meeting with the Indian prime minister on April 5, it was absurd to suggest, as for example a PTI news report did, that the two rounds of substantive official talks between the Indian and US defence delegations on the previous day had centred on the Indian demand for "de- escalation of [US] arms assistance to Pakistan" Even a cursory glance at the composition of the Indian delegation for the talks should have exposed the vacuity of any such notion. The Indian delegation, led by the defence minister, had included, besides the minister of state for defence and the secretaries of defence and defence production, the three service chiefs and the scientific adviser to the defence ministry. There could not have been the slightest doubt that the subject of the talks was the supply of US arms to India. The significance of Frank Carlucci's visit lay precisely in the fact that it marked a milestone in the progressively closer defence relationship between India under Rajiv Gandhi and the US.

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