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US Defence Secretary to visit India this month


A file photo of US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

NEW DELHI (PTI): US Defence Secretary Robert Gates is expected to undertake a visit to India later this month during which the two countries will discuss ways to push their defence cooperation and take stock of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Dates for the visit, likely to take place towards this month-end, are being worked out, Defence Ministry sources said here.

Gates will hold talks with Defence Minister A K Antony and meet top officials of the armed forces.

The two sides are also expected to exchange notes on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan with the Indian side giving its assessment.

Issues related to Indo-US defence cooperation with focus on military supplies and exercises are expected to dominate the discussions.

In the recent years, sale of US weapons to India has increased after American companies were allowed to bid for defence contracts here and signing of the 10-year Framework Agreement for the India-US Defence Relationship in 2005.

India has already placed orders worth over $3.2 billion for buying six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and eight P-8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft from the US.

New Delhi is also contemplating procurement of around 200 BAE Systems-built ultra-light howitzers and 10 Boeing-built C-17 strategic lift aircraft under Pentagon's Foreign Military Sales route.

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