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Rezaul H Laskar, PTI
Islamabad, January 22, 2010
In a significant development, Defence Secretary Robert Gates today said the US is considering the supply of unarmed versions of spy planes to Pakistan as part of the military partnership between the two countries. Gates, who is visiting Islamabad for a strategic dialogue on the link between security in Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the US could provide Pakistan aircraft and drones for intelligence-gathering and surveillance purposes.

"We are in partnership with the Pakistani military and we are working to make available to them their own intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance vehicles, both aircraft and drones.

There are some tactical UAVs that we are considering," he said during an interview with Express 24/7 news channel.

The Pakistan government, which has opposed US drone attacks in its tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, had been pressing the American administration to provide it unmanned aerial vehicle technology so that its armed forces could carry out attacks on Taliban fighters.

Till now, the US had refused to provide drones or UAV technology to Pakistan, which has a small number of indigenously developed spy planes.