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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Indian Defence Minister to travel to the United States tomorrow

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, June 24 -- Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee will travel to the United States early morning tomorrow for a crucial visit that will pave the way for the upcoming visit to Washington D.C. by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in mid-July.

Mukherjee will have meetings with US Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and his counterpart Donald Rumsfeld during his stay in Washington.

The visit is taking place in the context of US agreeing to cooperate with India in matters relating to defence hardware.

Regarding the purchase of defence hardware from the United States, Mukherjee said, "no decision (on purchase of defence hardware) is expected during my visit. The visit will be mainly exploratory in nature to expand and widen relations between India and the US.

"It will be wrong to say that I am going there to buy equipment," he said maintaining that the trip was in the backdrop of the opening up of US policy towards India with regard to the defence sector.

In the run up to the Prime Minister's visit, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran have held intensive parleys with their American interlocuotors to firm up the agenda.

US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice held preparatory meetings here earlier this year. US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns today met the Foreign Secretary here to discuss a range of issues.

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