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'Disappointed' India summons US ambassador over sale of F-16s to Pakistan

'Disappointed' India summons US ambassador over sale of F-16s to Pakistan

NEW DELHI: A 'disappointed' India summoned on Saturday United States envoy in New Delhi, Richard Verma, over Obama administration's decision to sell eight Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, along with training, radar and other equipment, a deal worth $699 million.

"We are disappointed at the decision of the Obama Administration to notify the sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan," Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said on Twitter.

"The US ambassador will be summoned by the ministry of external affairs to convey our displeasure."




Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar later met the US ambassador at the ministry to convey India's disapproval of the deal to Washington, in a meeting which lasted 45 minutes, reported The Hindu.

The Obama administration notified the Congress on Friday that it planned to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, with a State Department spokesman saying that US weapon sales to Pakistan contributed to the fight against terrorism and furthered Amer­ica’s foreign policy interests.

The remarks followed a move by some US lawmakers and a campaign in the US media to stop the Obama administration from selling eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.

Although Congress has delayed the proposed sale, the administration still seems interested in pushing it through, insisting that it’s in vital US interests to do so.

"We disagree with their rationale that such arms transfers help to combat terrorism," Swarup said. "The record of the last many years in this regard speaks for itself."

When asked at a State Department news briefing if he had any figures to back up the claim that US assistance to Pakistan had reduced terrorist activities, spokesman Mark Toner said he did not have such figures in front of him but noted that no country in the region had been more touched by terrorism than Pakistan.

“We believe it’s in our vital national security interests to support Pakistan in carrying out its efforts to destroy these terrorist networks, and we believe it’s an important partner in the region in achieving a stable and secure Afghanistan,” said the US official.

The F-16 aircraft would allow Pakistan's Air Force to operate in all kinds of weather, at night, as well as "enhance Pakistan's ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counterterrorism operations," the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency, which coordinates such foreign arms sales, said in a statement.

The proposed deal will now go through a 30-day notification period after which it will be finalised.

The new aircraft will add to Pakistan’s sizable force of fighter jets which includes more than 70 F-16s and dozens of French and Chinese attack aircraft, the report said.

In May 2015, the US handed over to Pakistan over 14 combat aircraft, 59 military trainer jets and 374 armoured personnel carriers, Dawn newspaper had reported. The weapons supplied to Pakistan were earlier used by American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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