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India against US `blank cheque` to Pakistan: Rao

India has conveyed its concern to the US over arms sales to Pak and is against giving a "blank cheque" to Islamabad to spread more terror.



New Delhi: India has conveyed its concern to the US over arms sales to Pakistan and is against giving a "blank cheque" to Islamabad which could use the sophisticated weapons against it as it did in the past.

"We have shared our concerns with Washington. We have said all along that Pakistan cannot be given a blank cheque in such matters," foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said.

She said that assistance extended to Pakistan "ostensibly for counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations could very well be used against India as the history of the last sixty years goes".

The US is "increasingly aware, and alert, and attentive" to India`s concern on this issue, Rao said in TV interview.

Apart from the sale of F-16s worth $1.43 billion, the US is also financing $477 million for almost 60 mid-life update kits for its older fleet of F-16s A/B combat aircraft and financing part of 115 M-109 self-propelled howitzers. Pakistan is also getting 20 AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters and 121 refurbished TOW missile launchers from the US, according to Pakistani media reports.

"Washington is very attentive to our concerns. We have continued our dialogue on this issue. We are engaged in a constant communication with the United States on these issues. And I believe that the United States is increasingly aware, and alert, and attentive to these concerns," Rao said.

Asked why the US arms sales to Pakistan is continuing, she said, "Well there is a situation now in Afghanistan and there is the involvement of the United States in that situation, and Pakistan is involved in that entire operation.

"So, there is a certain context now in which all this is placed. But nonetheless, our concerns about it have been articulated very clearly to the Americans," Rao said.

She underlined that the Indo-US strategic ties were important but at the same time emphasised that India was not dependant on a third country for engaging in talks with Pakistan.

"I think the strategic partnership with the United States of America is of undoubted importance, there are no two opinions about that, and the cooperation that we have engaged in with the United States in a number of sectors including counterterrorism is being taken forward.

"...we are not dependent on any third country when it comes to transacting relations with Pakistan. We deal directly with Pakistan, and bilateral issues are taken up bilaterally with that country," Rao said when asked whether it is still sensible for India to rely on the US to curb Pakistan.

PTI

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