September 06, 2011 Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times
New Delhi -One of the issues that may be taken up during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Bangladesh visit is closer defence ties between the two countries.
India is, for the first time, open to even supplying military hardware and spares to its eastern neighbour. Government sources said apart from closer army-to-army contacts, India may supply spares and undertake repairs of armoured corps' equipment.
India has never supplied weapons to Bangladesh - as Dhaka has not made any queries recently - since its independence war of 1971. But Dhaka recently hinted that they needed spares and ammunition for their artillery guns and tanks.
The Bangladesh government largely purchases small weapons, mortar, air defence artillery, artillery guns, main battle tanks, F-7 fighters and frigates from China.
The other major suppliers are Russia (MiG-29 fighters), the United States (helicopters), the UK and even Pakistan.
Dhaka also wanted closer cooperation in training and increase in bilateral contacts.
During Indian army chief General VK Singh's five-day visit to Dhaka last June, the Bangladesh military leadership said the reciprocation from the Indian side to training courses in Dhaka was less than that of Bangladesh's in Indian defence colleges.