Hindu Vivek Kendra
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U.S. to Resume Pakistan Military Aid

U.S. to Resume Pakistan Military Aid

Author: Munir Ahmad, Associated Press Writer
Publication: Washington Post
Date: September 27, 2002

A top U.S. defense official said Friday that the Bush administration will soon restore military aid to Pakistan to bolster the country's military capabilities - a deal Islamabad hopes will include new F-16 fighter jets.

"The United States has an interest in having Pakistan's capabilities enhanced," U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith said. "We have an interest in working together with the Pakistani armed forces on common security issues."

Feith spoke at the end of four days of talks between U.S. and Pakistani defense officials in Pakistan's capital, the first high-level meetings held since the United States imposed sanctions following Pakistan's nuclear tests in 1998.

The talks focused on the release of weapons and equipment already earmarked for Pakistan but withheld after the nuclear tests. The meeting - known as the Defense Consultative Group - also discussed the purchase of new weapons and the possibility of restarting joint military exercises.

Feith said Pakistan's participation in the U.S.-led war on terrorism had led U.S. authorities to reconsider the four-year ban on military assistance.

"We are interested in creating a security environment in which Pakistan and the United States can work together to the maximum against the threat of terrorism and dealing with this very serious problem of al-Qaida and Taliban," he said.

Pakistani Defense Secretary Gen. Hamid Nawaz expressed interest in buying new arms and submitted a list of defense equipment that included new F-16 fighter jets to patrol the borders with Afghanistan and India.

In recent months, U.S. and Pakistani security forces have been carrying out raids on suspected al-Qaida hide-outs in remote areas along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

Feith also said officials from both countries were working toward a resumption in joint military exercises.

"We are looking at what training we can do together," he said.

A second round of talks are expected to be held in Washington as early as March, officials said.

U.S. military aid to Pakistan was cut off in 1990 to punish the country for its growing nuclear program, but Pakistan later received special U.S. administration permission to buy spare parts for its existing weapons and aircraft.

Further sanctions were imposed and the defense group meetings were scrapped after the 1998 nuclear tests, but since then, Pakistan has become one of Washington's most important allies in the war on terrorism.

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