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US defends arms sale to India

world Updated: Jun 02, 2010 10:53 IST

Defending its arms sales to India, US has said that it was commensurate with New Delhi's expanding role in Asia as well as America's own interest.

"We've looked very carefully at the kind of sales that we're discussing consistent with the wider role that India is playing in Asia and in global security, its commitment, to helping to secure sea and air trade routes that are important to all of us in Asia," Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns said in response to a question at the Council on Foreign Relations - a Washington-based think tank.

"At a time when the India, Pakistan border is a flashpoint -- it's a place where a major war could begin -- is it wise for the US to be planning to sell such a large weapons package to one side (supply) the advanced fighters? Why does that make sense given the dangers?" Burns was asked.

"So we're very careful in how we try to calibrate those sorts of sales, and we think that's commensurate with India's expanding role as well as with our own interests," Burns said in response.

Strongly defending USA's ongoing arms sale to Pakistan, Burns stated that this is to meet Pak's immediate challenge in fighting violent extremism.

"We try to apply the same standard in looking to what our significant arms sales to Pakistan as well, focused, in the case of Pakistan, mainly at the current stage on how we can help enhance its capacity to deal with the immediate challenge it faces in terms of, you know, fighting against violent extremists," the top State Department official said.

"And so, you know, you look at the significant package that we're proposing for Pakistan, it's very much focused on those kind of issues. We've been very careful I think in how we've approached the sorts of sales or transfers that we make to either India or Pakistan," Burns said responding to the question.