US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said late on Monday that he had addressed establishing a responsible engagement with India with his Pakistani counterpart.
Blinken made his remarks after India’s defence and foreign ministers protested the US government’s decision to bolster Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jet force with a $450 million support package.
After meeting with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Blinken stated, “In our discussions today, we talked about the significance of managing a responsible relationship with India,” without going into further detail.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the US State Department, responded that the US and India and Pakistan have separate relationships when asked about the F-16 purchase.
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“The relationship we have with India stands on its own; the relationship we have with Pakistan stands on its own,” Price told a news conference. “We also want to do everything we can to see to it that these neighbours have relations with one another that are as constructive as can be possible.”
Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought three wars, mainly over the Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir.
In 2019, they engaged in an aerial battle during which India said it had shot down a Pakistani F-16 after one of its own jets was brought down. Pakistan denied that one of its F-16s was downed.
People-to-people contact between the countries, formed by a split of British India in 1947, virtually ended after the 2019 clashes.