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US may sell jet fighters to Pakistan and India: report

Agence France-Presse | March 15, 2005

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to indicate Washington's willingness to sell US-built F-16 fighter jets to both Pakistan and India, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Rice arrived in New Delhi Tuesday on the opening stop of a six-nation tour of Asia, her first of the continent since becoming secretary of state in January.

She next travels to Afghanistan, Japan, South Korea and China during the week-long tour.

The Journal, citing US officials and others, reported that the tentative plans call for Washington sell some 24 F-16s to Pakistan, while India could buy up to 125 of the fighter jets.

"We're going to talk to India and Pakistan about our expanding security and defense relationship, but we're not planning any annoucement during this trip," a senior State Department official traveling with Rice told AFP.

If the sales are finalized Pakistan's F-16 would be built at Lockheed Martin Corp.'s plant in Texas. Some of India's jets would also be built in Texas, but most of the production would shift to India, according to the Journal.

Any such deal weapons depends on congressional approval.

According to the Journal, Lockheed officials have said that unless it receives new F-16 orders by October it will have to begin shutting down its production line.

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