Tags: U.S. | Defends | Israeli | Arms | Sale | India

U.S. Defends Israeli Arms Sale to India

Tuesday, 03 June 2003 12:00 AM

"But we are very concerned and we have conveyed our concern to the United States," Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Riaz H. Khokhar told United Press International after meeting senior State Department and national security officials in Washington.

On May 22, the State Department announced that the United States had approved the sale of Israeli Phalcons to India.

The approval follows the lowering of tensions in South Asia, the department said.

The Phalcon airborne radar systems, one of the most sophisticated in the world, is worth $1 billion each and would greatly enhance India's air surveillance capabilities. It's an Israeli-developed, long-range early warning and control system carried in a Russian Ilyushin-76 cargo plane.

"We did raise this issue with U.S. officials ... and told them how this will affect the conventional balance between India and Pakistan," Khokhar said. "We also told them that it was not a helpful development."

Asked how did the Americans react to Pakistan's concerns, Khokhar told UPI American officials told him "they had resisted the sale but could not have done more. This is really between Israel and India."

The Bush administration, however, "has taken note of our concerns," he said.

The foreign secretary said he also briefed U.S. officials on recent developments in South Asia, particularly the move for improving India, Pakistan relations.

"We briefly touched on the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq as well."

He said that Pakistan appreciates "the helpful role" the Bush administration has played in "initiating the process of dialogue between India and Pakistan."

"The process is still slow because both sides are being cautious," he added.

Khokhar said that Pakistan's newly appointed envoy for New Delhi, Aziz Ahmad Khan, would take his position by the middle of this month.

The Indian ambassador, he said, may come to Islamabad later because he would be preoccupied with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to Beijing where he currently represents India. Vajpayee will be visiting Beijing later this month.

"But we expect the Indian ambassador to be in Islamabad in the first half of July," he said.

The foreign secretary said the two embassies in New Delhi and Islamabad would have a staff of 47 each, although Pakistani currently has only 43 people.

He said that those diplomats who were ousted after being declared persona non-grata by respective governments would not be sent back to the positions they acquired before their ouster.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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"But we are very concerned and we have conveyed our concern to the United States," Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Riaz H. Khokhar told United Press International after meeting senior State Department and national security officials in Washington. On May 22, the State...
U.S.,Defends,Israeli,Arms,Sale,India
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2003-00-03
Tuesday, 03 June 2003 12:00 AM
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