US lawmakers eye halting some Pakistan arms sales

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WASHINGTON, Nov 8 (Reuters) Two senior Democratic US lawmakers today urged the suspension of certain US military sales -- including the sale of F-16 fighter jets -- if Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf does not revoke emergency rule.

In a resolution, Sen Joe Biden of Delaware, a presidential candidate and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen John Kerry of Massachusetts urged a careful review of US military assistance to Pakistan after Musharraf declared a state of emergency on Saturday.

It said US ''assistance for the purchase of certain weapons systems not directly related to the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban should be suspended if President Musharraf does not revoke the state of emergency and restore the Constitution, relinquish his position as Chief of the Army, and allow for free and fair elections to be held in accordance with the announced timeframe.'' The United States has given Pakistan 10 billion dollars in aid over the past five years, and has agreed to sell Pakistan up to 36 new F-16 fighter jets together with refurbished F-16s.

Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon's No 1 contractor, won a 144 million dollars contract last year for materials needed to build the F-16s.

Biden told reporters he addressed the issue of the F-16 sales in a conversation with Musharraf.

''I made clear to Musharraf that some of the big ticket weapons items that are not designed to combat the Taliban or al Qaeda are on the table as far as I'm concerned -- the F-16s and the P-3 maritime surveillance aircraft,'' Biden said. ''I do believe that he got the message.'' He did not say when he talked to Musharraf.

Reuters MP VP0305

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