US ‘closely following’ Pak using F-16 against India

Washington: Washington on Tuesday said that it has been “closely following” the reports alleging Pakistan’s use of F-16 fighter jet aircraft in an attempt to target military establishment in India recently.

Addressing a press conference at the White House Deputy, Spokesperson of US Department of State, Robert Palladino said: “So we’ve seen those reports and we’re following that issue very closely.”

“I can’t confirm anything, but as a matter of policy, we don’t publicly comment on the contents of bilateral agreements that we have in this regard involving U.S. defence technologies nor the communications that we have with other countries about that. So we’re taking a look and we’re going to continue to take a look, and I’m going to leave it at that,” Palladino asserted when asked to comment on whether Pakistan has been misusing the fighter planes.

India has found the use of F-16 by Pakistan. State Department and the U.S. embassy in Islamabad said it is looking for more information on that.

Speaking on the United States position regarding the reports of escalating tension between New Delhi and Islamabad following the Pulwama terror attack on February 14, which claimed lives of 40 CRPF personnel, the Deputy Spokesperson noted: “Our position – the position of the United States is we continue to urge both sides to continue to take steps to de-escalate the situation, and that includes through direct communication.”

The Deputy Spokesperson also said that Washington has been in “continuous – high-level contact” with both New Delhi and Islamabad.

“And we believe strongly that further military activity will exacerbate the situation. So we reiterate our call for Pakistan to abide by its United Nations Security Council commitments to deny terrorists sanctuary and to block their access to funds,” Palladino added.

Palladino stated that Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, last week in Hanoi, had spoken to Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi that had further played an essential role in de-escalating the tensions between the two sides.