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“If the United States opens its markets for Pakistan more, it would be a much better way of helping,” he said. “The role of aid should be that of a catalyst for us to accomplish that change on our own.”

IT’S COMPLICATED

A recession last year crippled Romania’s ability to purchase second-hand F-16 combat planes from the United States, complicating further negotiations, the U.S. ambassador in Budapest said Thursday.

“This is a very complicated negotiation because at some point it requires a financial agreement,” Ambassador Mark Gitenstein told reporters.

In March 2010, Romania announced that it would spend $1.3 billion to buy 24 fighter jets, but a severe recession hit the country in June.

The price tag for the jets now would amount to 1 percent of Romania’s gross domestic product. A former finance minister called the purchase “impossible.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.