25 March 2017

USA: Defense Secretary Meets With Indian National Security Advisor

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2017 — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hosted Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval at the Pentagon today to discuss the importance of the U.S.-India relationship and the role of both nations in cooperating to uphold international laws and principles, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement following the meeting.

“Democracies like ours need this sort of dialogue and we have had a strengthening of the relationship over the last several years,” Mattis said of the U.S.-India relationship during a media availability before the meeting.

During the meeting, the defense secretary specifically applauded India's efforts to promote stability in the South Asia region, Davis said, and both leaders reaffirmed their intent to build upon the significant defense cooperation progress made in recent years.

“We share the values,” Doval told reporters. “We share the democracy. We all have the very common objective and interest, both for the region that I come from and also globally that's able to work together, share our ideas and thoughts and bring about some new innovative changes and improvements.”

Mattis and Doval further discussed collaboration on a wide range of regional security matters, including maritime security and counterterrorism, Davis said, and the two leaders pledged to continue the strong defense partnership between both nations.

News Report: 'In Russia-China-US Strategic Triangle, US Isn't Looking Very Confident'

A Congressional report released this week warned that Russian-Chinese military-to-military cooperation is moving toward a disturbingly high level. Commenting on the report, Radio Sputnik commentator Ilya Kharlamov suggested that its authors have a pretty superficial understanding of the causes behind the expanded cooperation.

Put out earlier this week, the report, created by the US-China Economic & Security Review Commission, indicates that Russian-Chinese military cooperation, including arms deals, joint war-games and increased contacts, has reached a level which "could pose challenges" to the US and its allies, particularly in the Asia Pacific Region.

The report stresses that as far US interests in the Asia go, the normalization of relations between Moscow and Beijing that started nearly thirty years ago, and which has gone on to include increasingly complex and expansive military exercises, as well as the sale of Russian Su-35 4++ multirole fighters and S-400 SAM systems, is troubling, for several reasons.

News Report: Beijing's South China Sea Comments 'Targeted at Canberra,' Not Washington

China's Artificial Island on Fiery Cross Reef (Sept-2015)
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang's recent statement in Canberra that construction work in the South China Sea is for civilian, not military purposes, is aimed at skeptics in Australia, Yang Mian of the Communication University of China told Sputnik.

China's building projects in the South China Sea are not a militarization of the region, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang told journalists in Canberra on Friday.

"With respect to the so-called militarization, China never has any intention to engage in militarization in the South China Sea," Li said following a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

In recent years China has reclaimed land and constructed port facilities, lighthouses and an airstrip on the Spratly Islands, an island chain to which China, as well as several other Pacific Rim countries, lays claim.

News Story: Russia to Help India to Get NSG Membership

Russia is negotiating with China on behalf of India to get membership for the Nuclear Suppliers Group which India needs urgently.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — “Yes I came to know that Russia is helping out India for its bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group membership,” former External Affairs Minister and presently Member of Parliament, Shashi Tharoor told Sputnik.

Shashi Tharoor further added that, “India has no choice but to seek the help of Russia as in spite of our consistent efforts we could not be able to convince China. Russia is our old friend and Russia being a close ally of China can be of great help to India to convince China.”

“If I would be have been the Foreign Minister, I would have done the same,” Shashi Tharoor told Sputnik in and exclusive interview.

Indian lawmaker D Raja also echoed the same sentiment when he said that, “It’s a back channel diplomacy. In fact, Russia is keen so that India gets the membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group. Russia has no qualms about India’s non-signatory status on NPT.”

India wants to be a member of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group but China has blocked India’s membership bid despite support from the majority of NSG members. China is objecting NSG membership on the grounds that India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Human Error Proves to be Indian Navy’s Biggest Worry

The Indian Navy is worried at the preponderance of human error that led to 21 operational accidents in the last three years. The most famous being the accident involving the submarine INS Sindhughosh and a fishing trawler in 2015.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Indiscipline is cited to be the main reason for the operational accidents, in which 10 lives have been lost.

"In cases of accidents, a Board of Inquiry (BoI) is set up to determine the cause and identify the officials responsible. In majority of the cases, the inquiry is complete. 42 officers/sailors have been held responsible. Disciplinary action has already been taken against 32 officers/sailors," said Subhash Bhamre, India's Minister of State for Defense.

The Indian Navy had set up the Indian Navy Safety Organization (INSO) in October 2012 to avoid naval accidents but its data show that the number of accidents increased after it came into being, instead of coming down. There were 32 naval accidents registered from 2007 to 2012. The INSO is responsible for analyzing incidents and accidents, reviewing safety regulations and procedures, issuing policy directives and conducting safety assessment.

News Report: India Says US Sanctions Won’t Affect S-400 Deal With Russia

S-400 Triumf (Image: Wiki Commons)
Indian Defense Minister has said there is no uncertainty involved in purchase of S-400 air defense systems from Russia since Moscow has been a long standing and trusted defense partner.

New Delhi (Sputnik) – Defense Minister Arun Jaitley said this in parliament in his reply to a question on the S-400 deal following news reports. Indian newspaper Economic Times and US-based Defensenews reported that the $10 billion defense purchase contract, including stealth frigates and S-400 systems, with Russia would be hampered by US sanctions. Jaitley said that in spite of US imposed sanctions, Russian firms will face no hurdles in furnishing requisite guarantees from Indian banks.

“Capital procurement of defense equipment is carried out as per provisions of the Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP). In accordance with the extant DPP, in cases involving expenditure above $3 million (Rs 20 crore), Indian and foreign vendors are required to sign a Pre-Contract Integrity Pact and have to furnish an Integrity Pact Bank Guarantee (IPBG) for a stipulated amount from an Indian public sector bank, along with the commercial bid. This requirement does not apply to certain categories of capital procurements, including those from certain Russian government agencies,” said Jaitley in his reply.

“India and the Russian Federation enjoy a special and privileged strategic partnership. Russia has been our long standing and trusted defense partner and Government is committed to continuing the relationship to the mutual benefit of both countries,” he said.

The Indian armed forces possess 70 percent equipment of Russian origin. It is widely expected that defense ties will be further improved with the recent commitment made by Russian defense firms, regarding long-term supply contract of spare parts and manufacture of spare parts through joint venture and technology transfer with Indian companies.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: China May Launch 2nd Liaoning Aircraft Carrier Late April

China's 2nd Liaoning class aircraft carrier under-construction
Second Chinese Liaoning aircraft carrier might be launched at the end of April 2017, local media reported Friday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – According to Sina news portal, a number of photos have been circulating in the Internet, depicting installation of radars and base painting of the deck. After analyzing the photos expects came to a conclusion that the vessel might be launched in late April, in particular on April 23, when China celebrates Founding day of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.

Liaoning is a Type 001 class vessel. The first carrier was rebuilt out of Soviet aircraft cruiser Varyag in early 2000s, with the first sea trial taking place in 2011. In September 2012, Liaoning was commissioned into the PLA Navy.

In late December 2015, the Chinese Defense Ministry announced plans to construct a new Liaoning aircraft carrier, built by China itself.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: US Sanctions Firms Working With North Korea, Iran

North Korean Ballistic Missile Launcher (File Photo)
WASHINGTON — The United States announced sanctions Friday on 30 foreign individuals or companies that aided Iran or North Korea in the countries' ballistic missile programs.

In a statement released Friday, the State Department said it had sanctioned 11 companies or individuals from China, North Korea or the United Arab Emirates for transferring technology to Tehran that could further the country's ballistic missile program.

The 19 other firms or individuals are believed to have either transferred to or received from Iran, North Korea or Syria illicit goods banned under previous U.S. sanctions.

News Report: Taliban Denies Talks With Pakistan on Afghan Peace Prospects

Ayaz Gul

ISLAMABAD — Afghanistan’s Taliban disputes media reports that its representatives recently visited neighboring Pakistan and discussed with officials there the prospect of holding direct peace talks with Kabul.

The Taliban have long refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government, calling it a “puppet” of the United States.

“We strongly reject [the media reports] because none of our leaders has traveled to Islamabad, nor has he met with any official there,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the insurgency’s main spokesman, told VOA Friday.

But he did not outright deny reports his group may attend a Moscow meeting, if invited.

“When an invitation is extended to us, only then we can consider it and comment on it,” Mujahid said.

News Report: Malaysia Buying Chinese Ships to Protect its Waters From China, Others

Ralph Jennings

TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Malaysia’s deal to buy Chinese naval ships and step up patrols against any intrusions from China underscores the complexity of relations between the two countries and signals growing concern over national defense.

Officials from the Southeast Asian country, with a coastline stretching from the Sulu Sea westward to the Indian Ocean, said in November they would get four littoral mission ships made in China.

Littoral mission ships are relatively small vessels designed in the past for stealth combat near coastlines, sometimes against bigger enemies.

Upgrade aging fleet

Analysts say those ships would head up the replacement of 50 vessels in the Royal Malaysian Navy to protect its waters from a list of threats. Among them is China, which competes with Malaysia for claims to the shared South China Sea.

“China, when their vessels patrol the nine-dash line, that brings them very close to Malaysian shores,” said Ibrahim Suffian, program director with the Kuala Lumpur-based polling group Merdeka Center. He was referring to a line China uses to delineate a maritime claim extending from its southern coast almost to Indonesia.

“The prime minister announced the agreement with China last year, for four littoral vessels,” he said. “In the past the Malaysian armed forces have typically favored Western equipment, whether from the U.S., the U.K. or France, so this marks a departure from the practice.”