India and the United States have agreed to a series of steps to boost defense and energy ties, the foreign ministry said, as Washington announced it would sell F-16 fighters to Pakistan.
NEW DELHI India and the United States have agreed to a series of steps to boost defense and energy ties, the foreign ministry said, as Washington announced it would sell F-16 fighters to Pakistan.
As part of the agreement, Washington has approved U.S. defense companies to bid for combat aircraft that India might want to buy and is considering offering New Delhi technology for civilian nuclear energy, the ministry said in a statement.
"The decision by the U.S. Administration to move forward on nuclear energy cooperation is welcome and reflects an understanding of India's growing energy requirements," it said late on Friday.
"We already have a regular dialogue with the United States on global and regional issues. The U.S. initiative to upgrade and broaden this dialogue giving it a much more global character reflects the further strengthening of the Indo-US strategic partnership."
The statement came after U.S. President George W. Bush agreed to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan in a major policy shift, rewarding a key ally in the war on terrorism.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed "great disappointment" and warned Bush that the move "could have negative consequences for India's security environment," said Sanjaya Baru, spokesman for the prime minister's office.
The Bush administration played down India's security concerns, and signalled a willingness to sell sophisticated fighters to India if it chooses to buy them in the future, but made no firm commitments.
A U.S. official said India is contemplating a "very large" purchase of fighters, including U.S.-built F-16s and possibly F-18s.
Indian newspapers said New Delhi had got more than nuclear rival Pakistan, with whom it has fought three wars. Tensions between the two eased since they began talks last year aimed at ending half a century of enmity.
"There was quiet satisfaction in New Delhi" barely hours after the United States agreed to sell F-16s to Pakistan, the Indian Express daily said.
"U.S. gives Pakistan F-16s, India gets F-16s plus plus."
The Hindustan Times quoted unnamed sources as saying India and the United States had agreed on "co-production of 126 aircraft including F-16s and F-18s."
India and the United States were foes during the Cold War, and New Delhi has traditionally bought military hardware from Russia, but in recent years the world's largest democracies have forged a new relationship, expanding defense and economic ties.