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White House Says Planned Drone Sale To India Not A Threat To Pakistan


FILE: An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted drone aircraft performs aerial maneuvers over Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.

The Trump administration doesn't believe its planned sale of high-tech surveillance drones to India poses a threat to Pakistan, a senior White House official said on June 24.

Speaking to reporters at the White House ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first visit with U.S. President Donald Trump on June 26, the official said the arms transfer takes into account the tense relations between Islamabad and New Delhi, especially in the disputed Kashmir region, where there are sporadic outbreaks of violence.

"We want to avoid a situation that escalates the tension" between India and Pakistan, the official said. India and Pakistan should engage in direct talks and seek a normalization of ties, the official said.

"Some of the defense systems we're talking about we don't believe impact Pakistan," the official added.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the U.S. company that makes the drones, said the government already has approved the sale of 22 unarmed drones worth $2 billion to India.

The Indian navy wants the variants on Predator drones to keep watch over the Indian Ocean, where China's naval presence is growing.

It would be the first sale of such drones to a country that is not a member of NATO.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

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