- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Pakistan gets C-130s

Pakistan yesterday signed a deal with the United States for the purchase of six C-130 Hercules military-transport plans, in the largest military sale to the key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism since Washington lifted sanctions nearly two years ago.

Nancy Powell, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, announced the $75 million sale of the Lockheed Martin planes after meeting with Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat, the head of the Pakistani air force, the U.S. Embassy said.

“The purchase not only improves the defense capability of Pakistan, it also enhances it ability to conduct relief missions throughout the region,” the embassy said in a statement.

“The sale … constitutes one of the many ongoing projects in the ever-growing defense-cooperation relationship between the United States and Pakistan.”

The United States lifted economic sanctions on Pakistan after it helped U.S. forces overthrow the fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which harbored the al Qaeda terror network responsible for the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Miss Powell this week also announced a health care aid package of $115.7 million.

U.S. envoy under fire

Communist politicians in Bangladesh yesterday accused the new U.S. ambassador of meddling in domestic affairs, after he urged the government to export natural gas to improve the lives of the citizens of the impoverished South Asian nation.

Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, in his first press conference Sunday, noted the country’s vast proven reserves of natural gas could be one of its most profitable exports.

“It is a decision for the Bangladeshi government and the people to make. That said, we would like to see a certain amount of natural gas to be exported,” Mr. Thomas said.

India, with a billion people, would be a likely market, but left-wing Muslim politicians object to exports to their Hindu-majority neighbor.

“The United States wants to make Bangladesh a dependent nation by looting our resources and destroying our economy,” the Communist Party of Bangladesh said in a statement.

“We don’t want to see the ambassador representing business interests only, in the disguise of a diplomat.”

The statement was signed by party President Monzurul Ahsan Khan and Secretary Mujahidul Islam Selim.

The main opposition Awami League also objects to exporting natural gas, according to news reports from the capital, Dhaka.

Bangladesh has proven recoverable natural gas reserves of 13 trillion cubic feet.

U.S., Russia set agenda

A top Russian diplomat is in Washington to help set agendas for next month’s meeting between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin and to discuss plans to deal with the nuclear threat from North Korea.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak arrived at 3 a.m. Monday, after a nine-hour delay in his flight from Moscow caused last-minute changes to his schedule, the Russian Embassy said.

Mr. Kislyak held talks with Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, and Elizabeth Jones, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs.

“Russian-U.S. consultations in Washington are expected to address a wide range of issues related to preparations for President Vladimir Putin’s upcoming visit to the United States,” a Russian official told the Interfax news agency in Moscow. “They will also focus on the situation on the Korean Peninsula.”

The United States, Russia, China, Japan and North and South Korea are scheduled to holds talks in Beijing on Aug. 27.

Russia is urging the United States to sign a nonaggression pact with the Stalinist North Korean government.

Blackwill gets new post

The former U.S. ambassador to India has a new post as a foreign-policy aide to President Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Robert D. Blackwill, who served two years in New Delhi, “will … help develop and coordinate the mid- and long-term direction of American foreign policy,” the White House said in announcing the appointment.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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