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India hints at more liberalised defence exports regime

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Advocating for a larger role for India in the Indian Ocean Region and ASEAN, which are witnessing an increased Chinese influence, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has hinted at the possibility of having a more liberalised defence exports regime for friendly nations.

He also said the Government was working on a policy under which certain defence industry related items would be banned from being imported to boost the domestic manufacturing sector and hoped that "we will be able to soon come out with it".

Laying emphasis on the need for defence exports, Parrikar on Saturday said many countries are looking at India for support as they are being "threatened" by others.

"Sometimes you have to make common viewpoint with your neighbours. You need to build goodwill for yourself in the region whether it is Indian Ocean Region or ASEAN... Whichever area, you need to develop support for your viewpoint around and within 1,000-2,000 kms of your location," he said.

Addressing a seminar in New Delhi, Parrikar said "many of them are threatened by others" and they are looking at India with a hope that it will come to their support in time of need.

"Many of them want to build up their defence strategies.

"You can develop or support peace... The best peace can come to you if you are strong. There is no weightage of a weak person talking about peace," he said.

Parrikar said exports of weapons at times can help strengthen countries which will indirectly ensure that peace and stability comes to the region.

"Of course you have to be careful about which countries to export. There are countries that are by nature aggressive.

"There are countries where conflicts are in such a boiling state, it's a perpetual issue of security," he said, adding that one needs to ensure supply of arms to nations or export oriented items are sent to countries that have a sensible purpose of using it.

He said one needs to make sure that arms do not go into wrong hands and gave the example of ISIS, which is using weapons that were given by foreign powers to Iraqi forces.

The Defence Ministry, in a report earlier this week, had said India remains conscious and watchful of the implications of China's "increasing military profile in our immediate and extended neighbourhood, as well as the development of strategic infrastructure by China in border areas".

Without naming China which is in territorial dispute with several countries over the South China Sea, the report said, "The contestations over island territories in the Asia Pacific have created tensions in the region and threaten to polarise the Asia Pacific community."

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