LONDON (Agencies) - The US is in preliminary talks with India over the sale of missile shield systems to help India guard against nuclear threats, according to a report carried by the Financial Times. India's need for greater protection against threats emanating from Pakistan and other volatile countries in the region was highlighted by an escalation in tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours following the Mumbai terror attacks in November last year. Officials at the US Embassy in New Delhi told the Financial Times that talks had taken place over the last two years, mainly at the technical level. They said US defence officials had conducted computer simulations with their Indian counterparts to demonstrate the capabilities of such technology. Experts from India's Defence Research Development Organisation have also watched two live launches of missiles used in the shield system. The Paper said the development highlights the fast-changing nature of the strategic engagement between Washington and New Delhi, after decades of frosty relations. "India is a partner of ours, and we want to provide it with whatever it needs to protect itself," one US embassy official said. "This fits into the overall strategic partnership we are building." However, India's politicians and defence planners have yet to take a final decision on whether to buy any foreign shield systems as they undertake an expensive modernisation of the army and replace ageing Soviet-era military hardware. "I get the impression the (Indian) scientists are quite interested, and that some in the strategic policy community...see this as a future tool in their kit bag," another US official said. "But India's political leadership and its strategic community need to decide what their interests and threats are." Satish Nambiar, former head of a military think-tank, said acquiring missile shield technology from Washington would be a sensitive move for any Indian administration, given public ambivalence towards the US. "It would have very serious political repercussions here," he said. The FT quoted a senior Pakistani official with detailed knowledge of the country's own nuclear programme as saying that Pakistan "will have to take counter-measures to respond" to any agreement between the US and India over a missile defence system. "For the past many years, we have been considering the possibility of such an outcome one day," the official said. According to the Paper, New Delhi also views China - with which it has an outstanding border dispute - as a potential adversary, although relations between the aspiring Asian superpowers remain polite. But the daily noted that no decisions had yet been made, and an agreement would likely be extremely politically sensitive for the Indian government. AFP adds: The Pentagon has had longstanding contacts with India on missile defence issues but is not in talks to sell it missile defence systems, a defence spokesman said. "The United States and India currently are not discussing the sale of any US missile defence systems to India," said Lt-Col Stewart Upton. A US defence official described the interaction with the Indians as being on "a very rudimentary level." "We have invited them to observe two tests this year to facilitate discussions of the two countries' ballistic missile defence test programmes," the official said. But the official said the invitation was extended with the understanding that it did not signal "US intention or willingness to sell the systems involved."