India has also asked American companies to invest in defence sector in the country with the visiting Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma assuring that the major changes in the liberalisation of FDI policy were under debate.

"Now that the Indo-US relationship has gained a new momentum with the Strategic Dialogue, it makes no sense to keep vital research organisations like Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) and Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in the entities list", Sharma said.

In his high level interaction with top US officials, the minister said, "It is high time to remove these organisations from the entities list, keeping in view the fact that DRDO, ISRO and other institutions, which are bold and high in research, are very actively involved in partnership or in co-ordination with the US agencies".

ISRO and DRDO were put on American technology export control blacklist after the 1998 Pokhran nuclear blast. Saying that India cannot be bracketed with other countries, the Commerce Minister told reporters that New Delhi's record in missile and nuclear non-proliferation was exemplary and "thus our entities particularly the governmental research organisations including ISRO and DRDO should not be on the entities list".

"I must say that they have been very receptive and reassuring," Sharma said in response to a question referring to his meetings here with top US officials in this regard.

On the investments in defence sector, the minister said 26 per cent FDI in the sector was very high, and Government was very hopeful that along with investments the foreign investors would bring in technology collaborations.

He said this technology inflow would not be restricted to defence field only but also have multiple industrial application. "We are open to foreign investments in defence. India is willing to change. We have friendly investment regime and there is very little negative list", he said.

On the demand to raise the FDI cap in defence sector to 49 per cent, the Commerce Minister said a national debate was on the country which could lead to a change in then policy.

Source: Agencies

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