Ashton Carter says Pakistan F-16s for fighting terror
New Delhi: US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter on Tuesday said the US has given F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan to fight terrorism and it approved using them in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas where the Taliban have a strong foothold.
He also said the US takes "terrorism emanating from Pakistan very seriously".
India has expressed its concern over the US decision to sell eight F-16s to Pakistan, with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar conveying the government's concerns to Carter, who is presently visiting India.
At a joint press conference with Parrikar, on being asked if the US was trying to be a trusted ally of India while supplying the F-16 fighters to Pakistan, Carter said: "We do try to be trusted partner of India."
He said the US has given some unique technologies to India. "We don't have an agreement like that with other countries."
Asked about the same issue, Parrikar said he did express his concerns to Carter, and the US defence secretary assured him the fighter jets would be used against terror.
Drawing a parallel with India's relations with Russia, Carter said the US values its relation with Pakistan.
"India also has relation with other countries like Russia. We respect that," he said.
"What we do in Pakistan is directed towards counter terrorism. We too have suffered from terrorism emanating from the territory, more specifically Afghanistan," Carter said.
"Pakistan has used F-16 in operations in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). We have approved it. We take terrorism emanating from Pakistan very seriously," Carter added.
The US in mid-February confirmed about supplying Pakistan eight F-16 fighter aircraft worth $699.04 million despite protests from India.
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Pakistan, which shares a long border with Afghanistan, has a long and sometimes conflicted relationship with its neighbour that includes attempts to prevent terrorism there and, some say, also encouraging it