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India protests to USA against arms for Pak
Rajiv Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, who is at present in Washington, has conveyed India’s concern to the Bush administration on its latest move to provide a $ 300 million arms package to Pakistan which is in addition to the proposed supply of F-16 fighter aircraft.

Analysts here said today that Washington’s move was “not helpful” either to democracy in Pakistan or to the ongoing Indo-Pak detente.

It is understood that New Delhi has conveyed to Washington in unambiguous terms that the promised defence package had nothing to do with anti-terrorist operations and it would only strengthen the Pakistan Army, both militarily and politically.

Mr Saran has told the US National Security Adviser and other senior American officials that the Bush administration’s arms package could impact the ongoing Indo-Pak peace process.

Foreign office spokesman Navtej Sarna had a terse reaction today and had this to say: “Mr Shyam Saran has conveyed Government of India’s strong concern at the reports of impending arms sales by the United States to Pakistan. He has pointed out the repercussions of such sales on the India-Pakistan dialogue which is currently poised at a sensitive juncture.”

Asked what was the response of the US officials to Mr Saran’s protests, the spokesman said the Americans’ response was that the United States valued its relationship with India and recalled President Bush’s personal commitment to take it forward.

The Bush Administration’s proposal on arms package for Pakistan is currently pending before the Congress for approval and the Congress has one month’s time to take a view on it.

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