US hands over 25 'Bell' helicopters to Pakistan

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Islamabad, Oct 22 (UNI) The United States today handed over 25 sophisticated Bell-412 helicopters to the Pakistan army as part of the ongoing anti-terror cooperation between both the countries.

''This event demonstrates the continued commitment of the United States to cooperation with Pakistan,'' US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Patterson said while speaking at the handing over ceremony.

She said army aviation personnel were an asset not only to Pakistan but also to ''our combined effort to fight extremism and bring peace and stability to the region''.

''Our military assistance programmes are for the long term. They are the foundation for cooperation and engagement, and a way to strengthen our bonds as partners and allies,'' added Ms Patterson.

In 2004, Pakistan and the US embarked on a long-term 235 million dollar project to help build Pakistan's army aviation capability.

During the first phase of the project, Pakistan army took the helicopters on lease with the the US providing the resources, funding, training, and support to help Pakistan establish a strong and reliable helicopter fleet.

''Today we celebrate the beginning of Phase-II. The Pakistan Army now takes ownership of these helicopters,'' the senior American diplomat noted.

UNI

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