NEW YORK, Nov 11: President Gen Pervez Musharraf speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” expressed disappointment with the US decision of not releasing the F-16s to Pakistan, and suggested that he was speaking about gestures which were more important than the planes themselves.
President Musharraf said on Sunday that the US refusal to sell the fighter jets has been “received negatively” by citizens in his country.
“This is one issue held very much against the United States,” Musharraf said on “Fox News Sunday.”
At a press briefing on Saturday night, Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi, spokesman for President Musharraf, downplayed the importance of getting F-16s, suggesting that the New York Times got the wrong impression.
However, in the interview with the NBC news programme President Musharraf said that he did ask for the planes of US President George Bush on Saturday as a gesture and expressed his disappointment with the US response.
The Bush administration said on Sunday it will not transfer to Pakistan American F-16 fighter jets.
“There are no plans now to transfer those airplanes to Pakistan,” said US secretary of state Colin Powell.
Mr Powell, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said the US has a new military dialogue with Pakistan “but at the moment it does not include the transfer of those F-16s.”
Separately, Mr Powell said Pakistan and India need to enter talks over Kashmir region, but the United States would not play a key role in settling the dispute. “To the extent that the United States could be helpful in fostering this dialogue, fine, but we cannot become the mediator, or the arbitrator or the intermediary between them,” Mr Powell said.
Gen Musharraf on his part said President Bush had promised to facilitate talks.