Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sale Of F-16 Aircraft To Pakistan Sign Of Evolving Relationship: Pentagon

The Pentagon says the impending sale of F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan is a sign of burgeoning relationshipbetween the two countries, that has clearly been evolving week by week.

"The F-16 sale is a sign of this burgeoning relationship between us and increased defense cooperation between our two countries. So the personnel that are going there in advance of the arrival of those planes is to assist the Pakistanis so that they can operate these sophisticated warplanes," said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell.

Morrell also noted the "great strides" made over the past few weeks to try to accelerate reimbursement payments for coalition support funds to the Pakistanis as another sign of progress in U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

In this regards he said about $600 million was en route or would soon be en route in the next few weeks to Pakistan to reimburse them for their military operations (in the north-western region bordering Afghanistan) over the past year.The Pentagon spokesman said virtually everybody in the Defense Department--the Secretary, the Chairman, General McChrystal, the head of ODRP in Pakistan--clearly enjoys very good relations with Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, which he termed as a positive development.

However, Morrell observed that sending more U.S. personnel to the Islamic country and their visa continued to be a major bottleneck.

Though some progress on that count has been made, he asserted that there probably is still more that could be done so that they could be more helpful to the Pakistanis with regards to reimbursement payments, which Islamabad clearly, given the fiscal situation that the country faces, are in need of as well.


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