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US to give latest defence systems to Pakistan

The US has agreed to sell sophisticated weapons to Pak, besides the already promised F-16s to fight terrorism.

india Updated: May 08, 2006 16:06 IST

The United States has agreed to provide Pakistan's military with latest conventional weapons systems besides the already promised F-16s to fight terrorism.

The commitment to provide the weapons was made by the US after examining the list of defence requirements provided by Pakistan at the just concluded US-Pakistan Defence Consultative Group (DCG) meeting in Washington, Pakistan's Defence Secretary Tariq Waseem Ghazi said.

"The US has agreed to sell conventional weapons and latest weapon system to Pakistan so that the fight against terrorism can effectively move forward," he was quoted as saying by Pakistan TV ARY One.

The meeting also decided that American and Pakistan forces would hold joint military exercises in 2007, he said

The United States has already agreed to provide F-16s to Pakistan.

Recent reports said Pakistan has scaled down its plans to buy 77 F-16s following last year's earthquake and sought about 25 used and second hand planes during the recently concluded US-Pakistan strategic dialogue.

DCG was revived in 2003 to periodically discuss Pakistan's defence requirements. Ghazi said during the meeting, he conveyed Pakistan's stand that US-India nuclear deal would "disturb" the existing military balance between India and Pakistan.

"We believe that everybody will suffer if this balance is disturbed," he was quoted by the Dawn newspaper as saying.

He said Pakistan had "some reservations" about the Indo-US nuclear deal and these reservations were raised during the five-day talks of the DCG.

"We told them that the existing balance of power in South Asia must not be disturbed. It will hurt everybody if this balance is disturbed," Ghazi said.

He said the Pakistani delegation also discussed the Bush administration's concept of "de-hyphenated" relationship with India and Pakistan.

"We have different views on some aspects of this concept and we believe that (the Indo-US nuclear deal) may lead to an arms race in South Asia," Ghazi said.

US officials were told that allowing India to keep some of its nuclear facilities outside the international safe guards has the potential to "disturb" the balance of power.

"There's always a possibility of the diversion of fissile material from safeguarded to un-safeguarded facilities. This could lead to escalation in greater weaponisation and arms race," he said. Claiming that Pakistan understood how to maintain the minimum strategic deterrence in the region and "will not be tempted into this race, he said it's for the world to see what could trigger such a competition.

The Defence Secretary claimed it was not just Pakistan that had reservations about the Indo-US nuclear deal.

"Enough people are questioning this in the US as well," he said adding at the DCG that meetings both sides agreed that there was an "excellent" understanding between the military establishments of the two countries and on issues of regional security.

"But they also agreed that this understanding should go beyond defence ties and develop into a long-term friendship between the two countries," he said.

First Published: May 08, 2006 14:42 IST