US Set to Give $2 bn Military Aid to Pakistan But No N-deal

By Arun Kumar

Washington, Oct 20 (IANS) Ignoring India's concerns, the United States appears all set to offer Pakistan a $2 billion new military assistance package to fight extremists, but an India-type civil nuclear deal is not on the cards.

We're not in any discussions with the Pakistanis on civil nuclear cooperation," Frank Ruggiero, deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told reporters Tuesday ahead of a three-day Strategic Dialogue with Pakistan.

The dialogue led by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi culminates Friday. Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will also take part and hold talks at the Pentagon.

The Pentagon and the Pakistani military have been talking about a framework for security assistance, he said. "We specifically worked with the Pakistanis over the summer to identify what would be the types of military equipment and so on,"

"That will be a topic of discussion at the strategic dialogue," Ruggiero said declining to spell out details of the proposed aid package. But CNN said the package totals as much as $2 billion over five years.

The package will be in the form of financial aid under the American Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme, which in turn will help Pakistan purchase weapons and defence equipment like helicopter gunships and communication equipment produced in the United States.

The new package is in addition to the five-year, 7.5 billion-dollar package approved by the US Congress last year for building schools, infrastructure and democratic institutions in hopes of denting the appeal of extremists.

Besides flood relief operations and developmental issues, the continued existence of terrorist safe haven inside Pakistan and the apparent reluctance of Pakistan to take the terrorists head on would be one of the major topics of discussions, Ruggiero said.

At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs said the US was getting "an unprecedented level of cooperation from the Pakistanis in taking on insurgents, because we understand, unlike in the past, it's now in our mutual well-being to do so."

But Obama administration will "detail for the Pakistanis what more must be done. And that was clear in the report that was sent to Congress and that's been clear in our statements about our relationship with Pakistan."

Meanwhile, Pakistan has served notice that its will raise the Kashmir issue and its concerns about India's role in Afghanistan during the dialogue.

"We have concerns about developments in our neighbourhood. We have concerns about Afghanistan. Those will be discussed. Kashmir, our relations with India, all these issues will be discussed," Pakistan's Ambassador to US Hussein Haqqani said told reporters.


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