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UPDATED: 19:25, May 24, 2004
Indian new defense minister to modernize forces
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India's new Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Monday that "expeditious" steps would be taken to continue the modernization of the armed forces and transparent procedures would be instituted for arms procurement.

Speaking to reporters shortly after assuming formal charge, Mukherjee said that he would keep an open mind on the integration of the three services and on the creation of the post of Chief of Defense Staff.

Indo-Asian News Service quoted Mukherjee as saying that he would study the issue before taking a decision.

"We have to make proper use of resources. There have been complaints of under utilization in the past, which speaks of bad management," Mukherjee contended.

According to him, a country with limited financial resources could not afford such lapses.

"We are proud of our forces for spending sleepless nights in difficult terrain, protecting our country so we can sleep in peace," said Mukherjee, who has been finance and external affairs minister in the past Congress governments.

Source: Xinhua

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