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· Blair criticised over deal days after promoting peace
· 60 Hawk jets in package promoted by ministers
Richard Norton-Taylor and Ewen MacAskill
Saturday January 12, 2002
The government is mounting an intensive campaign to boost arms sales to India, including 60 Hawk jets worth £1bn, in spite of the danger of the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir spilling into war and destabilising the entire region.
The arms push comes only a week after Tony Blair visited India and Pakistan. He expressed the hope that "we can have a calming influence" and warned of the "enormous problems the whole of the world would face if things went wrong".
BAE Systems, makers of the Hawk, is confident of striking a deal with the Indians. Ministers have been pressing India behind the scenes to clinch the contract.
British arms companies will be prominent at an arms fair in New Delhi, Defexpo 2002, devoted to naval and land warfare. On offer at the exhibition next month will be howitzers, anti-aircraft guns, missiles and tanks.
Sales of arms to India would contravene the ethical guide lines adopted by Labour soon after it came into power. The government is supposed to take into account any threat to regional stability.
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