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Saturday, 4 June 2016

India set to discuss sale of BrahMos missiles to Vietnam


NEW DELHI: India is now set to discuss the possible sale of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles to Vietnam, even as Indian, American and Japanese warships gear up to hold the Malabar exercise off Okinawa from June 10 in a move that has aready ruffled the feathers of a prickly China . Defence sources on Friday said talks on the export of the 290-km range BrahMos missile , which India has jointly developed with Russia, will take place when defence minister Manohar Parrikar visits Vietnam on June 5 and 6. Vietnam has been keen on acquiring the conventional precision-strike missiles, which fly almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8, for several years now. But both India and Russia will have to agree to export them to a third country. With an eye firmly on China, India has been steadily cranking up its military cooperation with Vietnam as well as continuing with its plan for joint oil exploration in the contentious South China Sea. India is already training Vietnamese sailors on the Russian-origin Kilo-class submarines, while a similar programme on the Sukhoi-30MKI fighters of the IAF is also going to get underway soon, as was earlier reported by TOI . Parrikar will head for Vietnam after attending the ongoing Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. In the backdrop of China's continuing combative attitude in the South China Sea, Parrikar and his Singapore counterpart Ng Eng Hen on Friday stressed that all countries must respect freedom of navigation and right of passage as well as unimpeded commerce and access to resources in international waters. The two countries also agreed on the need to "evolve protocols and norms of behaviour in the air and maritime domains" aimed at building confidence, defusing tensions, and reducing the risk of miscalculations. While Singapore is not affected by Beijing's belligerence in the South China Sea, where China is locked in territorial disputes with countries like Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and others, it shares India's concerns over the raging dispute. Parrikar described Singapore as a "major fulcrum" for India in its "Act East" policy in the Asia-Pacific region. Under bilateral agreements inked over a decade ago, India provides facilities to Singapore for military exercises of mechanised forces at Babina and artillery at Deolali ranges, as well as for fighters at the Kalaikunda airbase. The two countries have also been regularly holding the Simbex naval wargames since 1994, which have graduated from being purely anti-submarine warfare exercises to complex ones involving multiple facets of operations at sea. 


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