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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

Plot to assassinate American citizen on domestic soil delayed drone deal with India: US

The possible involvement of Indian officials in the attempt to murder Sikhs for Justice leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun delayed the multi-tiered approval process that the US has for military equipment sales

Anita Joshua New Delhi Published 04.02.24, 04:55 AM
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US Senate foreign relations committee chairman Ben Cardin on Friday confirmed that he had delayed his approval for the India-US drone deal because of concerns about the alleged plot involving Indian officials to assassinate an American citizen on US soil.

In a statement issued a day after the Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency notified the US Congress about the possible sale on Thursday, Cardin said: “My approval of this sale was the result of months of painstaking discussions with the
Biden administration. While I’m fully aware of the significance of this sale for US national security and strategic interests, I have consistently conveyed my concerns regarding the timing of this sale to administration officials in light of the alleged murder-for-hire plot involving Indian officials to attempt to assassinate an American citizen on US soil.

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“I have been assured by the administration that the Indian government is committed to thoroughly investigating the situation and fully cooperating with the US Department of Justice investigation so that there is credible accountability in this case. As the chairman of this committee, I fully intend to hold the administration to these commitments.”

According to Reuters, Thursday’s approval by the state department does not mean the deal is a sure thing but demonstrates progress as the US continues a campaign to coax India away from buying Russian military equipment. “The State Department nod signals that the deal likely has cleared one stumbling block, approval by leaders of US congressional committees.”

The possible involvement of Indian officials in the plot to murder Sikhs for Justice leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun delayed the multi-tiered approval process that the US has for military equipment sales.

In his statement, Cardin also made it clear that he would continue to raise human rights issues with India. “I support deepening our bilateral relationship with India as long as that partnership is based on mutual trust and respect,” he said.

“Championing human rights and democratic values globally is one of my top priorities. Progress on these issues requires difficult discussions about our own democracy, as well as discussions with our closest allies and friends. I will continue raising human rights issues with the administration, as well as our Indian counterparts, because I believe that our shared values are fundamental to the growth and longevity of our partnership.”

The deal for the sale of the MQ-9B remotely piloted aircraft and related equipment to the Indian government, for an estimated $3.99 billion, was announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the US last June.

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