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Top US General Holds Discussions With Indian Defence Brass

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Jun 5 (UNI) America's topmost General today said his country saw bolstered defence capacities of nations as stabilising factors and, therefore, felt no wrong in India testing an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile or Pakistan arming itself with purchased weaponry.

''Stability increases when nations have confidence in their own defence capacitities... they are more relaxed then... they'll not act too quickly,'' averred General Peter Pace -- America's highest ranking military officer and Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff currently visiting India on a ''familiarisation'' trip.

Gen Pace -- at the end of a hectic day today during which he met Naval Chief and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee Admiral Arun Prakash, Army Chief JJ Singh and Indian Air Force Vice-Chief Air Marshal Ajit Bhavnani -- told mediapersons that instead of perceiving India's Agni-III missile tests as ''destabilising'' he considered them more as factors lending to furthering India's confidence in its self-defence capabilities.

''This is a stabilising factor....'' On recent US arms aid to Pakistan, Gen Pace -- who arrived earlier in the day on a short two-day visit -- said ''it is stabilising to have countries that think they have sufficient defence....'' Gen Pace -- the highest ranking American military officer to visit India in three years -- reiterated the oft-repeated US assertion that Pakistan was ''a very important partner to us in the war against terror, especially since 9/11... and in Afghanistan....'' Regarding the daylong confabulations here, Gen Pace said he had come here ''to familiarise myself with the Indian military leadership'' and had ''excellent discussions'' on ways the militaries of the United States -- the world's oldest democracy -- and India -- the world's largest democracy -- could partner each other.

''I came here to listen and learn... I see a natural partnership here... there is a large area for cooperation....'' Terming ongoing cooperation between the respective Armed Forces of the two countries as ''very good'', Gen Pace said it was now for these Services to suggest more ways for future collaboration. ''They should explore ideas... present them to their governments... where we can work together more efficiently....'' Earlier, Gen Pace -- heading a high level tri-service delegation -- was briefed on 'India's Security Perspective' by Lt Gen HS Lidder, Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff, following which US officials briefed the Indian defence brass on 'Regional Security Perspective'.

He was accorded an impressive inter-services Guard of Honour on his arrival for talks at South Block.

Gen Pace arrived here from Singapore on a special US Air Force jet for a visit that will also take him to Agra, Chandimandir and Shimla.

During his stay here, Gen Pace -- whose predecessor Gen Richard B Myers had visited India in July 2003 -- will also hold discussions with National Security Adviser MK Narayanan.

Gen Pace will also be visiting Agra to see the Taj Mahal as well as the Air Force Transport Base -- where he will also see the Paratroop Training School. Besides, he will visit the Headquarters of the Army's Western Command in Chandimandir, near Chandigarh, and its Training Command at Shimla.

Gen Pace is the third senior US military officer to visit India this year after US Pacific Air Force Commander Gen Paul Hester and US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Gary Roughead.

India and the US had upgraded their defence ties in June 2005 by signing a 10-year agreement that envisages stepped-up military cooperation in fields like missile defence, joint weapons production and technology transfer.


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