Washington: The United States is not in talks to sell India ballistic missile defence systems, a Pentagon spokesman has clarified, contradicting a report fielded by a UK newspaper in this regard. The spokesman said that Pentagon has maintained longstanding contacts with India on missile defence issues but this had not progressed to a point where sales of such systems were being considered.
"The United States and India currently are not discussing the sale of any US missile defence systems to India," said Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Upton.
In a report, a week or so back, UK's Financial Times, citing US embassy officials in New Delhi, had said the United States was in preliminary talks about sales of US missile defence shield systems to guard New Delhi against nuclear threats. (See: New Delhi takes a close look at US missile shield system: report)
The Pentagon defence official described the interaction with the Indians as being on "a very rudimentary level."
Interestingly, while the report had suggested that that Indian scientists had actually witnessed test firings of such systems on at least two occasions, the Pentagon official clarified that only an invitation to attend two such tests sometime this year had been issued.
"We have invited them to observe two tests this year to facilitate discussions of the two countries' ballistic missile defence test programs," the official said.
The official also said the invitation was extended with the understanding that it did not signal "US intention or willingness to sell the systems involved."