China's role in Pakistan port matter of concern: India

Gwadar port pakistan

Defence Minister A K Antony said on Wednesday that China's role in operating a strategically important port in Pakistan is a "matter of concern" as New Delhi and Beijing jostle for influence in the region.

Chinese media downplayed takeover of Pakistani port being built by Chinese companies in the neighbourhood. Management of Gwadar port, around 600 km (370 miles) from Karachi and close to Pakistan's border with Iran, was handed over to state-run Chinese Overseas Port Holdings last week.

When complete, the port which is close to the Strait of Hormuz a key oil shipping lane, is expected to open up an energy and trade corridor from the Gulf across Pakistan to western China.

"It is our duty. If they are doing it, we will also do it," said Antony, adding that the presence of a Chinese delegation at the show was a "welcome step," without elaborating.

Despite the push to overhaul its military, India's defence budget will not escape a tightening of government spending this year, Antony said, as New Delhi looks to rein in its fiscal deficit.

"Our priority areas will not face budget cuts. Those essential to operational preparedness, there won't be any budget cuts," Antony said.

A long-awaited deal for India to buy over 100 Rafale fighter jets from France's Dassault Aviation is being reviewed by a cost negotiation committee, Antony said, adding that the delay in finalising the deal was not due to budget cuts.

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