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Accord will hurt security interests: Left

Saturday 9 July 2005

Special Correspondent

" Dump the defence agreement with the United States into dustbin"

U.S. trying to draw India into the National Missile Defence system. The Defence Minister said the U.S. visit was "exploratory." But he "came back with an agreement."

NEW DELHI: The Left parties on Friday cautioned the Manmohan Singh Government against accepting the framework agreement on U.S.-India defence relations, saying it would have serious consequences for the country’s strategic and security interests.

"Let it [agreement] remain a framework, do not add flesh to it and put it in the dustbin," Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said at a public meeting organised here as part of an awareness campaign against the agreement, signed by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Washington last month.

Mr. Karat said successive governments had treated defence, security and strategic affairs as a "holy cow," and asserted that it was the right of the people and political parties to discuss them. "We will definitely intervene as and when required." The agreement should have been placed before the parties before the Government signed it. Unlike India, the United States was more forthcoming on details.

Issues of concern

Mr. Karat said there were four major areas, which were not in the national interest: collaboration in multinational operations; missile defence; shared security interest to protect the free flow of commerce; and co-production of defence equipment.

The multinational operations in the "common interest" did not mention a role for the United Nations, he said and demanded that the United Progressive Alliance Government explain what it meant. The U.S. was trying to draw India into the National Missile Defence system under cover of providing the Patriot missile system. This when the U.S. through the 1990s worked to deny India access to high technology, including cryogenic engines.

Mr. Karat said it was unfortunate that the Indian Government did not view the security issue in Asia as one that could be discussed and resolved among Asian countries, but sought to advance the U.S. interests in the region. The U.S. interest was to get the Indian Navy to patrol the Malacca Straits and other international seas as part of its proliferation security initiative. The effort was also to contain China using India as a counterweight.

On co-production of defence equipment, Mr. Karat said the U.S. often cut off military supplies when a country did not advance the American goal.

Communist Party of India general secretary A.N. Bardhan said the U.S. often used arms as a political weapon and that even now Washington relied more on Islamabad. He accused the U.S. of taking unilateral decisions and launching strikes against Iraq under the garb of multinational operations.

Mr. Bardhan criticised Mr. Mukherjee for saying his visit to the U.S. was "exploratory" and that he was not going there "with a shopping list." "But he came back with an agreement."

Revolutionary Socialist Party Central Committee member Abani Roy and Shyam Charan Gaur of the All-India Forward Bloc addressed the meeting. It began with the gathering observing a one-minute silence for those killed in the terrorist strikes in London on Thursday.

See online : The Hindu

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