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US says it is mulling over delivery of F-16s to Pakistan

03 February, 2005

RAWALPINDI: US Under-Secretary for Defence Douglas Feith (2nd R) talks during a meeting with Pakistan's Defence Secretary Hamid Nawaz Khan (R), at the
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ISLAMABAD, February 04 (Online): Pakistan and the United States have agreed to further cement their defence and military ties, however, Pakistan has failed to wrest US assurance on delivery of F-16 during Pak-US defence consultative groups meeting on Thursday here as US said it was deliberating over the matter.

The Pakistani side was led by Secretary Defence Lt. Gen (retd) Hamid Nawaz whereas US delegation was led by US Under Secretary of Defence for Policy, Douglas J. Feith.

The negotiations were held in two phases in which the two sides exchanged views on Pak-US relations.

Addressing a joint press conference after the meeting Douglas and Hamid termed the talks positive. Douglas said that US attaches importance to its relations with Pakistan.

"We discussed host of issues during the meeting and the two sides have quite a good understanding on all issues", said US Under Secretary of Defence for Policy .

He said that matters including elections in Iraq and Afghanistan, regional security, Pak-India composite dialogue and other security issues surfaced on the agenda.

He said US was reorganizing its ties with Pakistan in defence and military areas.

He maintained that US was conversant with Pakistan's defence and military requirements.

"We have discussed matters relating to defence and military trade and more negotiations on the said matters are to follow", he said.

In reply to a question he said Pakistan did raise the issue of delivery of F-16 aircrafts, however, Douglas said his country had not taken any decision in this regard " but we will continue our deliberations on it, he said.

We understand that acquisition of F-16 aircrafts is important for Pakistan, Douglas remarked.

He made it clear that US had not conferred upon Pakistan the Non-Nato ally status to press it to send troops to Iraq.

The decision to this effect has to be taken by Pakistan itself, he said.

To another question US Under Secretary of Defence for Policy said that US was taking keen interest in ongoing Pak-India composite dialogue.

Speaking on the occasion Hamid Nawaz said that issue of delivery of F-16 planes was on the formal agenda and Pakistan. He expressed his optimism that US will ensure delivery of the aircrafts soon because they (F-16) are Pakistan's defence priority.

In reply to a question Hamid termed assigning of non-NATO ally status to Pakistan important for Pakistan, saying that the international community including the US has acknowledged Pakistan's pivotal role in anti-terrorism war.

The award of the non-Nato ally status to Pakistan has opened new avenues for Pakistan for defence and military purchases, Hamid said.

Responding to another query he said that six C-1-30 planes from US will start arriving in the country in the first week of March.

Meanwhile, Douglas J Fieth, United States Under Secretary for Defence Policy, has said that US is interested to promote long term relationship with Pakistan.

He said that USA supported to continue for long term relations with Pakistan not only in the field of defence but in the economic, social, political and diplomatic and other areas as well. He said this during a meeting with Senior Federal Minister and Minister for Defence, Rao Sikandar Iqbal and Minister of State for Defence, Zahid Hamid on Thursday.

The visiting dignitary told both the Ministers that the Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status given to Pakistan by US would bring substantial benefits to Pakistan. The Ministers briefed the US Secretary about the Geo-political situation of the region. The ongoing composite dialogue process between India and Pakistan also come under discussion. The Minister told the visiting dignitary that Pakistan had shown considerable flexibility but India did not reciprocate which stalled the dialogue process.

The Ministers also apprised Douglas about the steps taken by Pakistan against fighting the menace of terrorism.

Douglas said that US had broader appreciation and admiration for the bold and courageous steps taken by President General Pervez Musharraf and the war on terror.

Besides the Ministers, the meeting was attended by Secretary Defence Lt Gen (Retd) Hamid Nawaz, Rear Admiral Ahsan ul Haq Chaudhry, Additional Secretary Ministry of Defence, while from American side Rear Admiral Moeller, Director Plans and Policy, Ms Kara Bue, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Political and Military Affairs Department of States and US Ambassador for Pakistan, Ryan C Crocker participated in the meeting.


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