India not keen on trilateral pact with US, Australia

New Delhi: India on Thursday voiced surprise at Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s remarks suggesting a trilateral security pact between the US, India and Australia, and made it clear it was not keen on it.

“We are not aware of any such proposal,” Vishnu Prakash, the external affairs ministry’s spokesperson, said in response to a question.

The defence ministry officials took a tougher stand, saying they were ‘taken aback’ at the statement of the Australian foreign minister.

The defence ministry also stated that it is not “keen on hopping to any multilateral security constructs in the region excepting those under the UN flag or such broad-based arrangements as ASEAN Defence Ministers Meet (ADMM +) and ASEAN Regional Forum.”

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review newspaper, Rudd backed the formation of a security pact with India and the US, saying it could come into being if Canberra ends a ban on uranium sales.

A new trilateral accord was worth exploring because ‘from little things big things grow’, Rudd said.

“The response from the Indian government has really been quite positive,” Rudd had said.

But India’s clarification on Thursday makes it clear that it is not keen on such a proposal.

Beijing has already objected to the proposed India-US-Japan trilateral dialogue, and another trilateral between India, US and Australia, informed sources, said could aggravate Beijing’s anxieties that such arrangements are meant to encircle it.