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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
India and US hold defence talks
Warships
Joint exercises are also on the agenda
Senior Indian and United States defence officials have begun their first high-level talks since India's recent change of government.

Issues being discussed in Delhi include countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.

The subject of India sending troops to Iraq may also arise, reports say.

US-India ties have warmed in recent years, but some observers expect the new government to be more critical of US policy than its predecessor.

Delhi has so far refused to send troops for the Iraq operation.

A recent statement from India's Ministry of External Affairs expressed concern at the deteriorating security situation, which had "caused the violation of the sanctity of places of religious worship and monuments of great cultural significance".

'Dramatic improvement'

The three days of talks in the Indian capital are being conducted by the Indo-US Defence Policy Group, the highest policy making body that determines defence ties between the two countries.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said recently that he expected relations with India to keep improving - despite the new Communist-backed government in Delhi.

Analysts say the new Congress-led government could be more critical of US actions than the previous one, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Washington suspended military ties with India and Pakistan after they carried out nuclear tests in 1998, but they were restored after the countries backed US forces fighting in Afghanistan.

"There has been a dramatic improvement in Indo-US military-to-military relations during the past few years," a statement by the Indian defence ministry said.

The two countries held joint naval exercises two years ago, as well as signing a mutual secrecy protection agreement.

The agreement is required before exchanging information about defence-related research.


SEE ALSO:
US keen to uphold India ties
18 May 04  |  South Asia
Joint Indo-US naval exercise
27 Sep 02  |  South Asia


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