US House panel to review F-16 offer to Pakistan
The $5 billion weapons package deal for Pakistan awaiting Congress approval, includes sale of 18 new fighter jets.india Updated: Jul 01, 2006 10:29 IST
A key panel of the US Congress, which earlier this week approved the India-US nuclear deal, has been called to meet again on July 13 to discuss the Bush Administration's proposal to sell F-16 aircraft and weapons systems to Pakistan.
The Republican chairman of the US House of Representatives' Committee on International Relations, Henry Hyde, on Friday called the meeting after the administration notified Congress about the proposed sale bid apparently to placate a miffed Pakistan.
There was no word as yet about a hearing by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which too has endorsed the India-US agreement, to review the F-16 deal. Usually Congress gets 30 days to review such offers. The deal goes ahead if Congress does not move to block it.
Washington's key negotiator on the India-US nuclear deal, Nick Burns, under secretary for political affairs, has been listed as a witness at the House panel's meeting. A few more witnesses are likely to be added.
The $5 billion weapons package deal for Pakistan awaiting Congress approval, includes sale of 18 new fighter jets with an option to buy another 18, and an offer to upgrade its existing fleet of 34 old model F-16s, manufactured by US aerospace company Lockheed Martin.
Describing Pakistan as a long-term partner and major non-NATO ally of the United States, a Bush Administration official said the proposed sale of F-16s to Pakistan was part of a larger effort to broaden US strategic partnership with Pakistan and advance its national security and foreign policy interests in South Asia.
The sale offer comes close on the heels of two Congressional panels approving with thumping majorities the India-US nuclear deal giving New Delhi access to US nuclear know-how after a gap of 30 years.