Pakistan should pay if wants to buy F-16: US

Washington: The US State Department has said that Pakistan will have to pay from its own funds if it wants to buy F-16 fighter jets. Pakistan had earlier reached an understanding with the US for buying eight F-16 planes. Under the deal, Pakistan was required to pay about $270m from its national funds. The US was supposed to provide the rest from its Foreign Military Financing (FMF) fund. But the US lawmakers made it clear that they would not allow the Obama administration to use US funds for the deal. The Congress had placed a hold on the deal, forbidding the administration from using US funds for enabling Pakistan to buy the planes. The State Department confirmed that Pakistan will have to use its own funds if it wants the planes.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said congressional opposition meant funds from the US government s Foreign Military Financing allocation could not be used to purchase the aircraft.

“Given congressional objections, we have told the Pakistanis that they should put forward national funds for that purpose,” he told a regular news briefing.

Kirby said the State Department opposed putting conditions on the use of such funds and believed that effective engagement with Pakistan, including by supporting its counter-terrorism effort, was “critical” to promoting democracy and economic stability in the country.

Earlier, in Islamabad, Syed Tariq Fatemi, special assistant on foreign affairs to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, did not refer directly to the F-16 issue, but complained that there was a “lack of sufficient appreciation for Pakistan s whole-hearted efforts it was undertaking jointly with the US administration, in countering the threat posed by terrorism.”

Fatemi made the remarks in a meeting with visiting professional staffers from the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) said in March it was using its own funds to pay suppliers and stave off closure of its F-16 fighter jet production line as it waited to finalise orders from Pakistan and other countries.The latest announcement practically kills the deal and Pakistan may find it difficult to buy the planes at two and a half times more than the agreed price.

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