F-16 deal with Pakistan not in response to India’s relations with Russia, says US
New Delhi has expressed its concerns over the deal for sale of the fighter jet equipment to Islamabad.
The United States said on Thursday that its decision to sell F-16 fighter jet equipment to Pakistan was not “designed as a message” to India’s ties with Russia, reported NDTV.
The $450 million (Rs 35,876 crore) defence deal that took place earlier this month had come four years after former US President Donald Trump had suspended about $2 billion (Rs 15,940 crore) of security aid to Islamabad.
On Thursday, US Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner clarified that the US had engaged India on the deal both before and during the decision, reported The Hindu.
“The decision inside the US government was made on US interests on our defence partnership with Pakistan which is primarily focused on counter-terrorism and nuclear security,” Ratner said. “It is one [issue] we have been engaged on with our Indian counterparts both in advance of the announcement to preview it and during my visit in Delhi as well.”
Last week, India had expressed its concerns about the deal. In a telephonic conversation with the US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin on September 14, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had addressed the matter.
India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is also scheduled to meet Austin at the Pentagon on September 26, reported PTI.
A large part of India’s military equipment comes from Russia. Earlier in July, the US House of Representatives had waived sanctions on India’s defence deals with Russia paving the way for Delhi to buy S-400 missile defence system from Moscow. The deal was stopped by Trump in 2018, saying he would impose punitive sanctions.