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US plan to sell drones to India: FO

28 October, 2017

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The Foreign Office on Friday sounded its opposition to a United States (US) plan to sell drones to India, and called on global powers to exercise more "international responsibility" before committing to such agreements.

US President Donald Trump had approved a $2 billion deal for the sale of unarmed surveillance drones in the run-up to his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June this year. The deal is subject to approval by the US Congress.

FO Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said the balance of power in the region would be disrupted because of the deal, and that providing sensitive military technology to India was akin to incitement of its 'misadventures'.

"Global powers should be aware of their international responsibilities before making such agreements," he said, adding that international agreements, regulations and treaties should be considered before providing India any such technology.

The FO also said that all civil nuclear technology agreements should be governed by rules of nuclear non-proliferation.

India, deviating from international rules, can use nuclear technology for military use instead of civil use, the FO claimed, adding that because of the Nuclear Suppliers Group's (NSG) loosening of restrictions in 2008, India is running three parallel nuclear programmes.

The NSG is a 48-nation club dedicated to curbing nuclear arms proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that could foster nuclear weapons development.

The group's membership has signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty but India has refused to do so.

The FO also said permission should not be granted for the construction of nuclear facilities that do not meet International Atomic Energy Agency safety standards.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in his visit to Pakistan called on Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and discussed bilateral and regional issues, the FO said.

"There was a desire on both sides to strengthen relations based on better understanding of each other’s concerns and interests and cooperation in diverse fields," Zakaria said.

He said Tillerson was apprised of India's alleged involvement in terrorism in Pakistan. The FO spokesman said New Delhi assists terrorists, including the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan among other militant groups.

He claimed that Indian agencies use Afghan soil against Pakistan.

Tillerson was also informed about Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations and successes, he said, adding that the US official acknowledged Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices in the fight against terrorists and the country’s strategic and economic importance in the region.

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