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Germany to Resume Sales of Military Supplies to Pakistan

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says Germany has agreed to lift a ban on the sale of military parts, allowing for imports of air force radar components. The move is the latest chapter in Pakistan's struggle for a military edge over rival India.

Following his meeting Tuesday with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, President Pervez Musharraf announced that Germany has agreed to resume sales of military supplies to Pakistan.

The German decision opens the way for Pakistan's purchase of spare parts for an important radar system used by its air force.

Germany is one of several Western arms-producing nations, including the United States and Sweden, which previously curtailed military sales to Pakistan because of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program.

Taken on its own, the agreement with Germany is of minor importance, as Pakistani political commentator Ayaz Amir points out.

"We get things from Germany, but it's not one of our top suppliers," he said. "What the president said really was about the radar system for the Air Force."

The lifting of the German ban does, however, mark a small victory in Pakistan's long-term efforts to keep foreign military supplies flowing.

These efforts saw a setback last month during President Musharraf's trip to Washington. There, President Bush said the United States would not sell Pakistan the latest version of its F-16 fighter jet, as the Pakistanis had hoped.

But President Bush also said Pakistan could use up to half of a proposed $3 billion U.S. aid package for other military uses.

"In the package that we discussed, the five-year, $3 billion package, half of that money goes for defense matters, of which the F-16 will not be a part," said President Bush.

Pakistan has long sought modern foreign military equipment to build up its armed forces as a bulwark against its traditional enemy India.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and several minor military engagements over the past 60 years, mostly over the disputed mountain territory of Kashmir.

Pakistan has also improved its domestic arms production in recent years, including a nine-year-old joint venture with a French firm to build submarines.