Logistics deal with US will end India’s strategic autonomy: Antony

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) Former defence minister A.K. Antony on Wednesday said the government’s decision to strike an agreement on providing military logistic support to the US will effect the independence of India’s foreign policy and strategic autonomy, and urged the government to retract it.

Antony said the erstwhile UPA government resisted the agreement for 10 years, and added that it would be disastrous for India.

“This will lead to ending the independence of India’s foreign policy and strategic autonomy. The UPA government resisted it for 10 years,” he said.

“It is a disastrous decision. The government should retract it.”

The Congress, however, has not given an official reaction on the “in principle” agreement between the US and India to conclude what has now been named a “Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement”.

Asked about the agreement, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said: “We will be making a detailed statement.”

Sources from the party told IANS that the issue will be discussed with party president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi, both of whom were out of Delhi on Wednesday.

Sonia Gandhi was out campaigning in poll-bound West Bengal, and Rahul Gandhi was in Rajasthan.

“The issue will be discussed with the party leadership on Wednesday night, and an official statement will be given tomorrow (Thursday),” a party official told IANS.

In a joint press conference with visiting US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced the agreement for a Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement, the new name for the Logistics Support Agreement.

The defence minister said the draft will take some time to be finalised, and it may take anything between a few weeks to a month or two.

Carter also clarified that it will not involve presence of US troops in India.

Antony, who was the defence minister of India from 2006 to 2014, said the step will eventually lead to India becoming a part of the US military bloc.

Antony said India, which has traditionally been close to Russia, has seen improvement in relations with the US but always resisted such agreement.

He also said that if needed, India can provide logistic support like refuelling etc. to US, but must keep their military equipment off Indian soil.

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