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Pakistan Gets Eight Orion Patrol Aircraft From US

Pakistan Navy chief Admiral Shahid Karimullah said in the statement that the acquisition of the P-3 aircraft was a "significant achievement" and would add a new dimension to the "offensive punch" of his fleet.

Islamabad (AFP) Aug 31, 2005
Pakistan has taken delivery of eight P-3C Orion patrol aircraft from the United States, a military statement said Wednesday, in the latest arms sale by Washington to its key ally in the "war on terror".

The Pakistani Navy now has 10 of the high-tech submarine hunting planes, which US officials have said will strengthen surveillance of Pakistan's coastal and border regions in a bid to stop the movement of terrorists and drugs.

The delivery of the aircraft comes five months after the United States announced plans to sell an undetermined number of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan.

Pakistan Navy chief Admiral Shahid Karimullah said in the statement that the acquisition of the P-3 aircraft was a "significant achievement" and would add a new dimension to the "offensive punch" of his fleet.

"The aircraft are being provided free of cost by the US Navy and the expenses for modification of aircraft avionics systems will be met mostly from the US military aid," the statement said.

Nuclear rival India has previously expressed concern over the sale of arms to Pakistan, but in recent months Washington has increasingly moved to bring New Delhi onside as well.

A key Indian foreign ministry official was due to arrive in Pakistan later Wednesday for a fresh round of talks aimed at speeding up their slow-moving, one-and-a-half-year-old peace process.

Orions, manufactured by US defence firm Lockheed Martin, are long-range maritime patrol aircraft with an endurance of 18 hours and can carry Harpoon anti-shipping missiles.

Pakistan has stood alongside the United States since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, when President Pervez Musharraf backed the US-led invasion of Afghanistan to topple the hardline Taliban regime.

Since then Pakistan has captured a host of key Al-Qaeda operatives, including the network's alleged number three, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, in May this year.

Washington named Islamabad a major non-NATO ally last year and the US Senate in January approved a 388 million dollar budget which included military aid to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The allocation was designed to bolster the capabilities of Pakistani forces along the rugged border with Afghanistan, where many officials believe Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is hiding.

It followed an earlier notification by US defense officials of a possible 1.3-billion-dollar arms package for Pakistan, which included the eight Orion planes.

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US Removes Certain License Controls For Nuclear-Linked Exports To India
Washington (AFP) Aug 31, 2005
The United States said Wednesday it had removed certain license controls for exports and reexports of American nuclear-related items to India under a bilateral pact, US officials said Wednesday.

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