Thursday, June 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

USA to resume F-16 sale to Pak

Washington, June 18
In an unexpected development that was deftly kept out of the media’s knowledge, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani during a meeting in Washington last week of America’s intent to resume the sale of F-16 fighters to Pakistan, a US newspaper has reported.

Defence and Foreign Affairs Daily quoted unnamed sources as saying that during the ‘very personal meeting’, Mr Advani was informed of the ‘disappointing news’ of the US government’s intent to sell new Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

A formal announcement of the sales was expected to be made during Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s visit to the USA beginning June 24.

The move would symbolise the commitment of the Bush Administration to Pakistan, which is now being seen as increasingly central in the US emerging strategy to contain Iran and to isolate North Korea, the Daily said.

Much was made of the Rumsfeld-Advani meeting in the Indian media because the Defence Secretary broke protocol to call on Mr Advani at the hotel where he was staying, as it was seen as an indication of the importance being attached to Indo-US relations.

However, the daily said the private meeting was to ensure that the news of the F-16 sales was conveyed to the Indian Deputy Prime Minister, without it being leaked to the media. Although the Indians were unhappy at the news, they kept the news from the media in the interests of maintaining good relations with Washington. UNI

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