Britain rules out arms embargo

NEW DELHI MAY 29. Britain today ruled out imposing any arms embargo on India. There was neither any move to obstruct the proposed sale of 66 `Hawk' advanced jet trainers (AJTs) to India, nor any plan to "suspend" the export licences given to its companies for supplying components of other British armaments already supplied to the Indian armed forces.

Defence circles here were agog with speculation following news from London last week that Britain had "suspended" the export licence given to British Aerospace, makers of Hawk AJTs, and was also contemplating cancellation of licences for export of spares for deep strike Jaguars as well as Sea Harriers and Sea King helicopters. All applications would henceforth be reviewed on a case- by-case basis. Analysts saw in the move, yet another instance of unreliability on the part of western arms suppliers.

However, the visiting British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, laid this deduction to rest during his extended meeting with the Defence Minister, George Fernandes today. Official sources said Mr. Straw made it clear that there was no move to block the sale of Hawk AJTs or to bar the supply of spares.

He said the confusion arose because one of the ruling party's senior leaders had spoken out of turn.

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