Pakistan, US to hold talks on defence needs

The talks are part of the US-Pakistan Defence Consultative Group.

Washington: A Pakistani defence delegation will arrive in Washington on Sunday for talks on a five-year plan for meeting the country’s defence needs, according to diplomatic sources.

Defence Secretary Athar Ali Khan will lead the Pakistani delegation, which will include representatives from all three forces as well as the Foreign Ministry, the Dawn reports.

The talks are part of the US-Pakistan Defence Consultative Group, which may now be merged with the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, also slated in Islamabad in late May.
Issues to be discussed include expected purchases by the three services, military training programmes, military contracts and the next year’s funding from the Coalition Support Fund.

About 1.8 billon dollars of arrears from the claims that Pakistan has submitted in the years 2010 and 2011 will also be discussed. These claims are for the reimbursement of the funds that Pakistan has spent in fighting insurgents in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Defence purchases may include ships for the Pakistan Navy and weapons for the army and the air force.

A reported offer that the US will provide 85 drones to Pakistan may also come up for discussion, although it’s not part of the agenda, diplomatic sources said.

“We have never received a concrete offer,” said a Pakistani diplomatic source. “Besides, the drones being offered do not meet our needs. We already produce such drones at home.”
Meanwhile, the US-Pakistan-Afghanistan meeting- that was postponed following the arrest of CIA contractor Raymond Davis in a double murder case in Lahore- is now being held as well.

A US delegation will visit Islamabad this week for trilateral talks with Afghan and Pakistani officials, which begin on May 3.