US defends arms gross sales to Pakistan following criticism from India

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has defended US army gross sales to Pakistan amid criticism from India, which says it’s the goal of a $450m F-16 fighter jet deal between Washington and Islamabad.

During a information convention within the United States capital on Tuesday, Blinken stated that the army package deal accepted earlier this month was for upkeep of Pakistan’s current fleet.

“These are not new planes, new systems, new weapons. It’s sustaining what they have,” stated Blinken, who spoke alongside India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

“Pakistan’s programme bolsters its capability to deal with terrorist threats emanating from Pakistan or from the region. It’s in no one’s interests that those threats be able to go forward with impunity,” he stated.

Blinken met with Jaishankar a day after he held separate talks together with his counterpart from Pakistan, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

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“In our discussions … we talked about the importance of managing a responsible relationship with India,” Blinken stated after that assembly on Monday, with out elaborating.

The US has maintained sturdy ties to each India and Pakistan for many years, regardless of varied factors of stress between the nations.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price stated earlier this week that “the relationship we have with India stands on its own; the relationship we have with Pakistan stands on its own”.

While Jaishankar didn’t criticise Blinken publicly over the F-16 deal, the Indian overseas minister stated throughout an occasion on Sunday that the US place was not “fooling anybody”.

“For someone to say, I’m doing this because it’s for counter-terrorism, when you’re talking of an aircraft like the capability of the F-16, everybody knows where they are deployed,” he stated, referring to the fleet’s positioning in opposition to India.

“Very honestly, it’s a relationship that has neither ended up serving Pakistan well nor serving American interests well,” he added.

Pakistan’s army depends closely on the US, however the relationship has strained in recent times, significantly throughout the battle in Afghanistan.

For its half, India traditionally has purchased army gear from Moscow and has pressed the US to waive sanctions required underneath a 2017 regulation for any nation that buys “significant” army {hardware} from Russia.

Jaishankar stated on Tuesday that India additionally has bought arms from international locations such because the US, France and Israel, whereas noting that India had the correct to “exercise a choice which we believe is in our national interest” and was free to reject adjustments because of “geopolitical tensions”.

Over the final 30 years, the US has made strengthening its relationship with India a excessive precedence because it seeks allies within the area to assist counter the rising energy of China.

The US has stayed largely quiet on India’s continued relationship with Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, and was happy when India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi informed Russian President Vladimir Putin that it was “not a time for war”.

US President Joe Biden held talks with Modi in April as Washington sought extra assist to use financial stress on Moscow over the battle.

Jaishankar has prompt that India is working behind the scenes and that it “weighed in” with Russia throughout negotiations to open grain shipments from the Black Sea, a part of what Jaishankar known as the nation’s widening “international footprint”.

“There are many more regions where we will be intersecting with American interests. It is to our mutual benefit that this be a complementary process,” Jaishankar stated.

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Meanwhile, Blinken stated throughout the information convention that India and the US ought to lean into “core values including respect for universal human rights, like freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression, which makes our democracies stronger”.

In current years, India has been accused of a variety of human rights abuses, together with curbs to non secular freedoms, significantly in opposition to Muslims.

Jaishankar responded not directly to Blinken’s feedback on Tuesday that each India and the US had been dedicated to democracy however “from their history, tradition and societal context”.

“India does not believe that the efficacy or indeed the quality of democracy should be decided by vote banks,” he stated.


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