Supply to F-16 jets to Pakistan is to ‘fight terrorism’: US Defence Secretary
New Delhi: Contending that the US takes terror emanating from Pakistan very seriously, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter today justified the country’s decision to supply F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan saying the jets have been given to them to counter terrorism.
"We take terrorism emanating from Pakistan very seriously," Carter, who is currently on a visit to India, said today.
India has expressed concern over the US decision to sell eight F-16s to Pakistan, with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar conveying the government's concerns to Carter.
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 to fight terrorism.
Drawing a parallel with India's relations with Russia, Carter said the US values its relations 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.
He also said the US did not want any conflict between India and Pakistan.
The US confirmed in mid-February the supply to Pakistan of eight F-16 fighter aircraft worth $699.04 million despite protests from India.
(With IANS inputs)