Saturday, January 21, 2006

Pakistan to buy F-16s

Pakistan is buying a large number of new & used F-16s:

Pakistan, which had put off a four billion dollar deal to buy 75 F-16 from the US in the aftermath of last year's earthquake, now plans to buy a mix of both new and used versions of the fighter jets.

"We are also considering to buy used F-16s from elsewhere. However, we will prefer a mix of new and old F-16 fighter planes for the PAF," Pakistan Air Force chief, Kaleem Saadat, said on Friday, adding, various versions for F-16s were available for PAF to chose from.

Maintaining a strong and credible defence is expensive and PAF needs hardware worth three to four billion dollars to maintain a minimum deterrence capability, he told the English-speaking Union of Pakistan (EUP) in Karachi.

PAF was on the verge of buying 75 F-16 fighter jets last year when the earthquake struck parts of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and NWFP on October 8.

The decision was put off to get maximum financial support from the world community for quake relief work.

Pakistan managed to get financial commitments to the tune of seven billion dollars for the relief and reconstruction.

Asef Shawkat's assests frozen

U.S. Freezes Assets of Syria's Intelligence Director:

The United States froze the U.S. assets of Syrian military intelligence director Asef Shawkat, accusing him of fomenting terrorism against Israel and backing Syria's role in Lebanon.

The move represented increased pressure on Syria to cooperate with a U.N. inquiry of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a Beirut bomb blast on Feb. 14.

The State Department called Shawkat "a key architect of Syria's domination of Lebanon."

No nuke with India

There will be no nuclear deal with India before Bush visits there in March:

Indicating that the nuclear deal was unlikely to be implemented before President George W Bush's visit here in early March, the US today said there were "difficulties ahead" and "much more progress" needed to be made in the negotiations unique in nature.

After his two-day talks with Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran here on the July 18 Civilian Nuclear Cooperation deal, US Under Secretary Nicholas Burns said the Bush administration was committed to implement that accord with its "global partner" India as it will have "enormous benefits" for both the countries.

"With regard to the civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, we remain hopeful that we will be able to achieve this agreement. It is difficult to undertake but it is very unique to undertake," he told a joint press conference with Saran referring to the ongoing negotiations for its implementations.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

No German Help

"A German spy chief and his agents" deny that they helped the US pick out bombing targets in Iraq.

A German spy chief and his agents assured members of Parliament that they did not help the United States pick out bombing targets during the invasion of Iraq, but failed to halt demands for an inquiry.

Ernst Uhrlau, head of Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, told Parliament's foreign affairs committee that German intelligence gave the United States information only on civilian sites to avoid in bombing raids, members of the committee said.

Media reports that two German agents went further, including acting as scouts for a raid aimed at killing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, have caused an uproar because the German government and public opinion both strongly opposed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Wouldn't want to be seen as helping the wrong side, you know.

US, India hold nuclear talks

India and the US are holding talks on their recent nuclear deal:

Seeking to implement the landmark nuclear deal ahead of American President George W Bush's visit here expected in March, India and the US today held talks on the roadmap for completing the process.

Meeting nearly after a month of their last parleys, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran held a restricted meeting with US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns here which was followed by a delegation-level meeting, official sources said.

The officials, on the first of the two-day parleys, are understood to have discussed how to proceed on implementation of the civilian nuclear cooperation deal under which the US will lift sanctions on dual-use technology trade with India.

India, required to separate the civilian and military nuclear establishments, has already presented its plan in this regard to the US in December and Washington is understood to have forwarded its response at today's meeting.

Saran and Burns are believed to have also discussed Iran's nuclear issue and upcoming visit of Bush tentatively to take place by March.

Ahead of his meeting with Saran, Burns said the two countries had "ventured into a unique international diplomacy in our bilateral atomic relations."

He had said in Mumbai yesterday that India and the US were committed to trying and achieve civil nuclear agreement between the two countries."

According to him, it would take around six to eight months to "decide on how best to proceed".

Hello, hello? This thing on?

After 14 months, I think I'm back!