"Nearly 120 Indians are stranded and 39 have been abducted in Iraq in areas overrun by Sunni insurgents. There are more than 10,000 Indians in Iraq, according to the external affairs ministry."
New Delhi, June 24 - Describing the slow pace of military purchases as a major concern, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley Tuesday said several decisions in the pipeline needed to be expedited.

Jaitley, who also holds the finance portfolio, indicated a higher allocation for defence though he did not clarify what to expect in the coming budget.

Key matter of concern is the slow pace of acquisition of equipment and assets that are required. Several decisions in the pipeline are good cases for these processes to be expedited, Jaitley said after a meeting here with top naval commanders.

Hope of the forces is that their requirements should be fulfilled and the process should also be expedited. The effort of the government would be to work in that direction, he said, adding that the files did not need to move up and down several times.

Jaitley said the entire resources of the country will be made available for the purpose.

The entire resources of the country, notwithstanding various pressures, have to be made available in significant amount for those in defence of the country, he said.

He, however, did not clarify what kind of hike the general budget would see in defence expenditure.

The minister added that there was no adverse impact on the preparedness of the armed forces because of the slow processes, and India was fully equipped to defend itself.

As far as safety of the country is concerned, the soldiers are always ready and whatever their needs are, the exchequer will fulfill them, he said.

Speaking at the Naval Commanders' Conference, Jaitley referred to the prevailing security environment in India's neighbourhood and complimented the navy`s efforts for working in tandem with a large number of central and state agencies, an official statement said.

He said the deployment of India's assets has been highly effective and needs to be continued to secure the country's economic and maritime interests.

Taking note of the capability shortfall of conventional submarines, ship-borne helicopters, mine countermeasure vessels and other weapons and sensors in the navy, the minister assured that all efforts would be made to ensure operational preparedness of the navy.

On the recent series of accidents, the minister told journalists that an internal review is on and the navy would take appropriate action.

Asked if India would send its troops to rescue Indians trapped in Iraq, the defence minister said: I am not going to speculate.

Nearly 120 Indians are stranded and 39 have been abducted in Iraq in areas overrun by Sunni insurgents. There are more than 10,000 Indians in Iraq, according to the external affairs ministry.

Jaitley also said the government was trying to restore investors' faith in the Indian economy.


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