Blinken defends Pakistan arms sales against Indian criticism

Blinken defends Pakistan arms sales against Indian criticism


Antony Blinken said that the package was for maintenance of Pakistan's existing fleet.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday defended military sales to Pakistan after withering criticism from growing US partner India, which considers itself the target of Islamabad s F-16 planes.

Blinken met in the US capital with India s foreign minister a day after separate talks with his counterpart from Pakistan.

The top US diplomat defended a $450 million F-16 deal for Pakistan approved earlier in September, saying the package was for maintenance of Pakistan s existing fleet.

"These are not new planes, new systems, new weapons. It s sustaining what they have," Blinken told a news conference with his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

"Pakistan s program bolsters its capability to deal with terrorist threats emanating from the region. It s in no one s interests that those threats be able to go forward with impunity," Blinken said.

Jaishankar did not criticize Blinken in public. But on Sunday, speaking at a reception for the Indian community in the United States, Jaishankar said of the US position, "You re 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 said, referring to the fleet s positioning against India.