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Govt denies US' plan to station military aircraft in India

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An unrelated photo of the C-17 Globemaster III of the US Air Force during an airlift mission at Forward Operating Base Shindand in Herat, Afghanistan. An USAF photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): A top US Air Force official's remarks that his country is planning to station a military aircraft in Thiruvananthapuram as part of its policy of encircling China with defence bases has created flutters in New Delhi and the Government has dismissed any such possibility.

General Helbert 'Hawk' Carlisle, the Commander of the US Air Force assets in the Pacific, had told reporters at a breakfast meeting recently that the American Air Force was planning to expand its presence in Asia as part of the 'pivot to Asia' policy. The idea behind it is to ring China with the US and allied forces.

"This is just the start of the Air Force's plan to expand its presence in Asia. In addition to the Australian deployments, the Air Force will be sending jets to Changi East air base in Singapore, Korat air base in Thailand, Trivandrum in India, and possibly bases at Kubi Point and Puerto Princesa in the Philippines and airfields in Indonesia and Malaysia," he was quoted as saying by the Foreign Policy magazine and other media outlets.

General Carlisle said "we are not gonna build any more bases in the Pacific to support the US Air Force's increased presence there." The US Air Force has nine major bases in different countries.

The new doctrine means the air force will start regularly sending aircraft to countries the US has not had a presence in the Cold War.

The General's views have created a sort of unease here.

Top Defence Ministry sources said the Ministry is not discussing with the US any plans to base its assets on Indian soil.

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