Pak says it is ready to probe US charge of Harpoon missile fraud

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Islamabad, Sep.1 (ANI): Pakistan on Tuesday said that it is ready to conduct any investigation on a charge made by the United States with regard to the alleged modification of Harpoon missiles.

Earlier, a New York Times report had said that the Obama administration had lodged a diplomatic protest with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani over the alleged alterations to the anti-ship missiles Islamabad bought in the 1980s thus making them capable of hitting land based targets and posing a threat to India.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs PJ Crowley said that the Obama Administration has taken up the matter with Pakistan.

"This is something that we take very seriously. We have raised the issue with the Pakistani government. The (Pakistan) government has responded with an agreement in principle for mutually agreed inspections," Crowley revealed.

"In this particular case, we have some concerns. We shared them with the government of Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan has been responsive," he said, adding "We would wait and see if those inspections can address the concerns that we have raised."

The Indian Government too had raised concerns about this development during Admiral Nirmal Verma's takeover as the new chief of naval staff on Monday. His predecessor Admiral Sureesh Mehta had also raised similar concerns.

Pakistan till now has rejected Washington's claims and said the accusations were part of a campaign to "malign it" and its armed forces.

A statement from Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said that it "categorically rejected" the article in The New York Times and that there were no modifications made to the missiles under reference.

The US has sold a total of 165 Harpoon missiles to Pakistan. The missiles were provided to Pakistan by the US administration as a defensive weapon in the Cold War era. (ANI)

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