US Defense Secretary Gates to visit India

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New Delhi, Feb.24: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates will arrive in New Delhi on Tuesday, and is expected to discuss the Indo-US nuclear deal and to pitch for a Rs.450 billion multi-role combat aircraft contract. Sources here said that Gates will be accompanied by a 50-strong delegation consisting of representatives of defense industries and civil and military bureaucrats.

Gates would also be carrying a letter from US President George Bush for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Two US giants have submitted their bids to sell 127 fighter jets to India. United States has said that in case of this multi-billion deal going to American companies, it would provide cutting edge technology to the Indian defence sector. Lockheed Martin and Boeing of the US, Gripen (Sweden), Rafael (France), Eurofighter (UK) and MIG-35 (Russia) are in the race for the deal.

The Indian government invited request for proposals six months ago and the last date for submitting the bids was March 3.

Gates will also urge New Delhi to provide level playing field to the US companies vying for Indian defense contracts, besides reviewing military-to-military relations with special focus on increasing the number of joint exercises between the two countries.

He will also seek an Indian assessment of the emerging scenario in South Asia and the situation of Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of recently concluded elections in Pakistan. (ANI with inputs)

ANI

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