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F-16 assistance to Pakistan not designed as a message to India: U.S. official

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Ely Ratner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, said that they had consulted India on the issue both before and after the decision and that the move on the F-16 was not intended to send India a message because of its ties with Russia.

Along with Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu, Mr. Ratner visited India two weeks ago for the intersessional 2+2 sessions with the Ministries of Defence and External Affairs.

In a late-night virtual conversation with a small group of journalists and think tanks, Mr. Ratner said, “The decision within the U.Shttps://okeynews.com/category/usa-news/. administration was taken on U.S. interests on our defense alliance with Pakistan, which is largely focused on counter-terrorism and nuclear security.” It’s a topic we’ve discussed with our Indian colleagues before the announcement to preview it and during my visit to Delhi.

His visit, which coincided with the announcement in Washington, DC, provided an excellent opportunity to have a “healthy exchange” on the U.S. justification for its “limited security partnership” with Pakistan and a perfect chance to hear Indian concerns about that. He went on to say that they believed it was essential to be “as transparent as possible” with their Indian counterparts both “in advance and during that decision” and that they thought it was necessary to be “as transparent as possible” with them.

The F-16 fighter aircraft program with Pakistan may have received a $450 million Foreign Military Sale (FMS) for improvements to the engines, electronic warfare equipment, and other hardware and software, as well as replacement parts, on September 7. Additionally, it said that no new capabilities, weapons, or ammunition would be included in the planned deal.

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Modi’s remarks

When asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments that the “era of war” was over during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin outside of the SCO meeting, which was New Delhi’s first statement expressing unease over the war in Ukraine, Mr. Ratner responded, “We were heartened by PM Modi’s comments last week.”

Rajnath Singh, the Indian defense minister, spoke with Lloyd Austin, the American secretary of defense, and expressed India’s worries about the U.S. F-16 aid to Pakistan.

Mr. Ratner noted that Mr. Austin clarified to Mr. Singh during the discussion that the support package “does not include upgrades or ammunition.”

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