April 20, 2014

Leon Panetta to urge India for greater role in Afghanistan

By Sajad - Tue Jun 05 2012, 6:50 pm

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited India to discuss regional strategic issues with the Indian government officials.

Leon Panetta arrived in India on Tuesday for talks focusing on Washington’s strategic shift towards Asia, as the United States eyes New Delhi as a potentially pivotal partner.

According to US officials defense secretary Leon Panetta will urge Indian government officials for a major role of New Delhi in Afghanistan during his visit to India.

India has not been a major military player in the war, largely focusing on economic development and reconstruction in Afghanstan, but U.S. defense officials said Panetta will talk with Indian leaders about possibly helping to train the Afghan army and police.

Such discussions, however, come at a particularly fragile time and risk further roiling U.S. relations with Pakistan.

During his two-day visit, Panetta is expected to discuss expanding defense ties, the NATO war effort in Afghanistan and China’s increasing economic and military power in the region, US officials said.

Panetta is due to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon on Tuesday afternoon, before giving a policy speech on Wednesday, officials said.

America’s defense ties with India have grown steadily since about 2000, including a substantial increase in arms sales that now total more than $8.5 billion over the last 11 years.

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