WASHINGTON - The United States Tuesday brushed aside India's concerns over its decision to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, saying the deal took into account the regional security situation.

"We don't think it should cause concern for India," said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters in response to a question about Indian objections to the proposed sale.

"We think this is a capability that will help Pakistan in its counterterrorism effort and we think that's in the national security interests of the United States," he said.

Pakistan had expressed its surprise over India's reaction following the announcement on Feb 13 of Obama Administration's decision to sell eight F-16 fighter jets worth nearly $700 million to Pakistan in the face of objections from India and some US lawmakers.

"This sale always took into account the regional security situation. We look at our relationship with Pakistan and our relationship with India as separate relationships. We think this is important capabilities for the Pakistanis to go after terrorists in that country," Cook said.

India summoned US Ambassador Richard Verma, who happens to be of Indian origin, to convey its protest over the decision.

India disagreed with the US' rationale that such arms transfers help Pakistan in combating terrorism, saying it believes the US military aid to Pakistan goes into anti-India activities.

Meanwhile, a US official defended the sale. “We support the proposed sale of eight F-16s to Pakistan, which we view as the right platform in support of Pakistan’s counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations,” the official said on the condition of anonymity, according to Defense One, a web publication dedicated to US national security coverage.

“These operations reduce the ability of militants to use Pakistani territory as a safe haven for terrorism and a base of support for the insurgency in Afghanistan, which is in the national interests of both Pakistan and the United States, and in the interest of the region more broadly.”

“[W]e are committed to working with Congress to deliver security assistance to our partners and allies that furthers US foreign policy interests by building capacity to meet shared security challenges,” the official added.

The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency, which coordinates such foreign arms sales, said it informed the US Congress of the planned sales on February 12.

The agency said the sales would "improve the security of a strategic partner in South Asia."

The F-16 aircraft would allow Pakistan's Air Force to operate at night and in all kinds of weather, while "enhancing Pakistan's ability to conduct counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations," the agency said.

The US defence agency insisted that the sales would "not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, objected to the use of taxpayer money to subsidise the sale. Corker expressed his disapproval in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Corker told Secretary of State John Kerry in a letter that he was concerned about Pakistan's ties to the Haqqani network.

"I may reconsider my blanket hold on US FMF assistance should the Pakistanis make progress on addressing my significant concerns about their support for the Haqqani network, but for now, if they wish to purchase this military equipment, they will do so without a subsidy from the American taxpayer," he wrote.

India’s Air Force has about double the number of combat warplanes as Pakistan, according to the International Institute of Strategic Studies. India has considered buying American-made fighter jets, including the F-16 and F/A-18 Super Hornet, but has yet to sign a deal.

This is not the first time US lawmakers have considered blocking an arms deal with Pakistan. In 2006, House Foreign Relations Committee members threatened, but ultimately did not, block an F-16 sale to Pakistan. Lawmakers have 30 days to block the sale.

It’s common for the Pentagon to announce more controversial arms deals aduring congressional recesses. The House and Senate are both in recess next week. The House is in recess the week of March 7.