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US says ready to sell advanced arms to India

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, Mar 3 (Reuters) The United States said on the heels of a landmark civilian nuclear cooperation pact with India that it was prepared to sell advanced warplanes and other high-tech arms to the south Asia nation.

''Where only a few years ago, no one would have talked about the prospects for a major US-India defense deal, today the prospects are promising, whether in the realm of combat aircraft, helicopters, maritime patrol aircraft or naval vessels,'' the US Defense Department said as President George W Bush paid a three-day visit to India.

''The next step is to turn the talk of prospective sales into reality. The United States is committed to working with India to do this,'' the department added in a statement released coinciding with the president's visit.

The Pentagon release did not mention any specific deals except to note that Washington was prepared to offer Lockheed Martin F-16 and Boeing F/A-18 jet fighters to India.

''It is our goal to help meet India's needs in the defense realm, and to provide important capabilities and technologies that India seeks. We are on a path to accomplish this,'' the Pentagon said in Washington.

''We have indicated our intention to offer both the F-16 and the F-18, both combat proven aircraft. As additional capabilities enter our force, we will work with the government of India to make them available,'' it added.

''Our proposal will also address India's interest in technology transfer and indigenous co-production.'' REUTERS DH RAI0523

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