Sri Lanka seeks cluster bombs, MBRLs, sea mines - report
[TamilNet, Saturday, 06 May 2006, 00:48 GMT]
Sri Lanka has placed orders with Pakistan for cluster bombs, deep penetration bombs and rockets and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), the Indian Express newspaper reported Saturday. Sri Lanka has turned to Pakistan for “a comprehensive list of weapons and other military hardware it wants to procure after India kept it waiting,” the paper said.
Separately, the UPI news agency, quoting an Indian diplomat, reported Sri Lanka “has even asked for satellite images and two unmanned aerial vehicles," from Pakistan.
Of the various requests Sri Lanka made to Delhi over the past 18 months, very few items were actually cleared for transfer and the Indian government “in no hurry to change the status quo”, the Express said.
India has “no objection” to Sri Lanka seeking weapons from Pakistan or China, IANS reported.
“But the Indian military establishment has made it clear that any move by Sri Lanka to inject foreign military personnel or establish "listening posts" in any part of the island's northeast would be viewed with grave suspicion,” the agency also reported Saturday.
“At the same time, India will not sell arms and ammunition of offensive nature to Sri Lanka. However, non-lethal military equipment and those deployed for defensive positions will be sold,” IANS said.
In response to a question about the possibility of India's military assistance to Sri Lanka, external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna told reporters: "We are already involved in training (Colombo's) armed forces. There is an exchange of visits by the three service chiefs."
On March 1, Sri Lankan chief of defense staff D.W.K. Sandagiri wrote to the Pakistan High Commissioner in Colombo requesting he urgently send a technical team to Colombo for an immediate survey of T-55 tanks and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, UPI said.
The Express listed equipment and weapons Colombo is seeking from New Delhi.
Colombo has unsuccessfully asked India for “maintenance contracts and spares for the Sri Lankan Air Force’s large MiG-27 ground strike fleet, laser-guided bomb upgrade kits, dumb bombs, penetration bombs, rocket pod systems and strafing ammunition,” the paper said.
Sri Lanka also asked India for “ship-based mortars, ammunition, small fast-attack craft and sea-mines for the Sri Lankan navy,” but the Indian government “has only allowed the transfer of ammunition and some non-lethal stores.”
Sri Lanka also asked India for “multi-barrel rocket launcher systems, mortars, air defence artillery systems, 5.56 mm weapons, ground radars, night vision devices, armoured troop carriers, UAVs, Milan anti-tank missile jeeps and mine-protected vehicles for the Lankan Army.”
But “apart from a pair of radars, nothing of significance has been transferred,” the Express said.
“With no response from India on any of these, the Lankan government has gone to Pakistan for UAVs, cluster bombs, PGM [Precision Guided Munitions] upgrade kits, deep penetration bombs and rockets,” the paper said.
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samarweera’s visit to India on May 7-9 is now confirmed, but Delhi is likely to maintain its stance, the Express reported.
While one reason for the Government dragging its feet is the LTTE, Indian Defence Ministry sources told the paper.
“Another is the lack of a comprehensive Indo-Lankan defence cooperation agreement, despite talks going on it for over two years now,” the paper said.