ISLAMABAD, Aug 5: Pakistan Navy is hopeful of getting P-3C Orions long-range maritime surveillance aircraft and spares for other units from the US, said Naval chief Admiral Shahid Karimullah on return from his visit to the States.

Admiral Karimullah had gone on a '10-day official visit' to the United States to explore opportunities of acquiring new weapons systems and spares for the Navy. After touching down at Karachi, Admiral Karimullah flew to Islamabad where he was received on the airport by Rear Admiral McDonald of the US Navy, vice-admiral Farooq Rashid of PN and other officials.

Rear Admiral McDonald had also seen off the Naval chief at Islamabad Airport on July 18. According to a press release issued by the Naval Headquarters, Admiral Karimullah on his return said he was hopeful about acquisition of P-3C aircraft and spares for units in Pakistan Navy's inventory.

He said the military assistance was in the pipeline and should soon be approved by the US Senate. However, he added, the process could take some time and required patience as the US government has to follow certain procedures.

Admiral Karimullah said Pakistan Navy "does not want to take any hasty decisions" and would acquire the military hardware after thorough examination of the offer. The examination was vital to ensuring that the equipment acquired by the Navy was in accordance with its service requirements and in the best interest of the nation, he added.

Sources said the examination of the equipment in the pipeline would help Navy avoid the trap of getting old equipment with expensive spare parts. The Naval Headquarters said during his stay in the US, Admiral Karimullah met US Under-Secretary of State Christina Rocca, Chief of Naval Operations US Navy Admiral Vern Clark and US Fleet Commanders of Pacific and Atlantic Fleets and Commander of US Central Command.

Pakistan Navy's participation in the Maritime Coalition Campaign was lauded by the military and civil functionaries of the United States, said the press release. The sources said Pakistan Navy had contributed one frigate for participation in the 10-nation Maritime Coalition Force patrolling the Arabian Sea to interdict weapons of mass destruction and terrorists on board ships.

Pakistan Navy joined the Maritime Coalition Force as a result of discussions held in September 2003 with Admiral Vern Clark, US Navy's chief of naval operations. During the visit, the Naval chief also explored new avenues of cooperation with the US after Pakistan got the status of a Major Non-Nato Ally.

Commenting on his visit, he said the visit had cemented the already strong ties between the two Navies. Quoting Admiral Karimullah, the press release said, the official US circles were not only appreciative of the 'principled stand' of Pakistan in the war against terrorism but also understood the constraints of Pakistan in this regard.

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