Swe­den seeks pact on de­fence ties

Ac­cepts ‘Make in In­dia’ di­men­sion

The Hindu - - NEWS - Narayan Lak­sh­man

Hours be­fore Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi touched down in Swe­den for bi­lat­eral dis­cus­sions and a Nordic re­gion sum­mit, Swe­den’s De­fence Min­is­ter Peter Hultqvist urged for a longterm agree­ment in de­fence co­op­er­a­tion, since both coun­tries are non-aligned coun­tries and have many com­mon val­ues.

In an in­ter­view with The

Hindu, Mr. Hultqvist specif­i­cally ad­dressed In­dia’s re­cent re­quest for in­for­ma­tion on the Saab Group’s Gripen jet fighter, say­ing, “We are in­ter­ested in a long-term re­la­tion­ship with In­dia, for the pro­duc­tion and de­liv­ery of JAS Gripen sys­tem to In­dia. I think we can of­fer a high­qual­ity prod­uct at a com­pet­i­tive price.”

‘Good al­ter­na­tive’

The Min­is­ter ex­plained that re­gard­ing the key ques­tion of tech­nol­ogy trans­fer, Swe­den would of­fer a “very good al­ter­na­tive that in­cludes ev­ery­thing that can make a sys­tem work­ing … for a long time with a high level of op­er­a­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

It is un­der­stood that Brazil re­cently made a sim­i­lar re­quest for Saab’s Gripen fighter and ended up pur­chas­ing 36 units. Other coun­tries that re­cently sought the Swedish jet are Thai­land and South Africa.

He added that Stock­holm had ac­cepted that the “Make in In­dia” di­men­sion would be part of the agree­ment, in­clud­ing “pro­duc­tion and de­vel­op­ment in In­dia.”

Asked if Swedish de­fence sales in South Asia, in­clud­ing to coun­tries such as Pak­istan, could con­ceiv­ably al­ter the strate­gic bal­ance, Mr. Hultqvist said Swe­den’s ex­port con­trol law re­quired each ex­port ap­pli­ca­tion to be sub­ject to an over­all as­sess­ment by a com­pe­tent li­ais­ing au­thor­ity from all rel­e­vant de­fence, se­cu­rity and for­eign pol­icy per­spec­tives.

Peter Hultqvist

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