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Terrorism and talks cannot go hand in hand: Nirmala Sitharaman warns Pakistan

NEW DELHI, June 5: The government “honours” the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir but will retaliate if Pakistan makes unprovoked attacks in the region, said defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday

“Terror and talks cannot go hand in hand,” Sitharaman said in Delhi a day after two top commanders of Indian and Pakistan’s border security paramilitaries met on Monday for second time in a week to reinforce a 2003 ceasefire along the Line of Control.

“When it is an unprovoked attack the [Indian] Army was given the right to retaliate. We honour the ceasefire but of course, a margin was given to us when there is an unprovoked attack,” she said at a press conference.

Sitharaman’s statement refers to the government’s decision in May to halt counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan.

India And Russia Conclude Advanced Missile Deal

NEW DELHI, May 27: India has concluded price negotiations with Russia for a nearly Rs. 40,000 crore deal to procure S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems for the Indian Air Force, officials said.

They said the two countries are now trying to find a way out to evade the provisions of a US law that seeks to punish countries and entities engaged in transactions with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.

"The negotiations for the missile deal have been concluded. The financial component has been finalised," a top official involved in the negotiations for the deal with Russia said.

The official said both Russia and India are likely to announce the deal before an annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in October.

Two other officials said both sides are now looking at ways to insulate the deal from the sanctions announced by the US against Russia under its Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

The issue is understood to have figured during PM Modi's informal talks with Vladimir Putin in Sochi last week.

There has been mounting concerns in India over the US sanctions against Russian defence majors including Rosoboronexport as billions of dollars of military purchases may be impacted because of the punitive measure.

The US had announced sanctions against Russia under the stringent law for its alleged meddling in the American presidential election in 2016.

CAATSA, which came into effect in January, mandates the Donald Trump administration to punish entities engaging in significant transaction with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis last month appealed to the Congress to urgently provide India the national security waiver, saying imposing sanctions under CAATSA for the S-400 air defence missile deal would only hit the US.

India wants to procure the long-range missile systems to tighten its air defence mechanism, particularly along the nearly 4,000-km-long India-China border.

In 2016, India and Russia had signed an agreement on the 'Triumf' interceptor-based missile system which can destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km. S-400 is known as Russia's most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.

China was the first foreign buyer to seal a government-to-government deal with Russia in 2014 to procure the lethal missile system and Moscow has already started delivery of unknown number of the S-400 missile systems to Beijing.

The S-400 is an upgraded version of the S-300 systems. The missile system, manufactured by Almaz-Antey, has been in service in Russia since 2007.

Indian Air Force floats 110 fighter jets order

NEW DELHI, April 5: The India Air Force asked global companies to submit proposals for 110 fighter jets, the world’s biggest such order currently.

It sought requests for information for the supply of single- and twin-seat jets to be mostly manufactured locally, it said in a statement on its website. India had earlier scrapped a deal to buy 126 fighter jets from Dassault Aviation SA, and instead opted to import 36 Rafale aircraft.

The order announced on Friday could be worth $ 10 to $15 billion. At least 85% of the jets --three-quarters of which are single-seat aircraft and the rest twin-seat -- have to be made in India and manufacturers interested in bidding need to send their proposals by July 6, according to the government.

Getting new aircraft is crucial for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the nation faces increased risks from neighbouring Pakistan and China at a time when the Russian MiG fighters -- India’s mainstay -- are being phased out. The country’s air force and navy require as many as 400 single- and double-engine combat aircraft, according to the government.

India started looking for new warplanes in 2007, a contest that ended with the government selecting Dassault Aviation for 126 Rafale jets for $11 billion. With talks stalling over price and quality guarantees, the government scrapped the purchase in 2015 and bought 36 jets separately to speed up the process.

India was revising the specifications to allow manufacturers such as Boeing Co. and United Aircraft Corp. to pitch their twin-engine combat aircraft in the deal, people familiar with the matter said in February. Modi wants to modernize the country’s aging military equipment with a $250 billion spending, but it has been bogged down by a defense procurement process which is known for delays, backtracking and a history of corruption, making it a sensitive, slow-going process.


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