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Indian military role in Afghanistan confined to training: US Defense Sec

Wednesday June 06, 2012 08:14:08 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Setting at rest speculation that the US wants India to play a greater military role in Afghanistan, visiting US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Wednesday said this would be confined to training the country's security forces.

"What I have asked for is for India to continue to provide. I understand the training takes place in India. I have asked, if possible, to expand this training. Beyond this, nothing in terms of additional military efforts," Panetta said during an interactive session after delivering a lecture on India-US relations at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).

He was responding to a question on whether, during his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, he had urged more intensive Indian efforts in Afghanistan and whether he had made any specific requests.

In Washington, Department of Defense spokesman Captain John Kirby discounted reports that the US wanted India to step up its role in Afghanistan.

"I think the reports have been slightly exaggerated," he told reporters Tuesday when asked about media reports citing US officials that Panetta, during his India visit, would encourage India to take a more active role in Afghanistan.

"I don't believe the secretary asked them to impress them to do more rather than expressed how much he appreciated the work they were doing to help provide support in Afghanistan and some of the things that they have expressed interest in continuing to do in Afghanistan, but also in the region," Kirby said.

"And so I think it was really more a statement of appreciation for everything they've done and the hope that they'll continue to stay involved as a leader in the region."

To characterise Panetta's visit to "India as some sort of poke in the chest to get them to do more would be to do his visit a disservice," he said.

"That's not why he's in India," Kirby said. "He's in India to thank them for their efforts at regional leadership and to look for ways to deepen our defence cooperation with India and our relationship with India. That is something he would like to do more of."

"But we're very appreciative of India's efforts in the region and in Afghanistan in particular," he added.




 

  








 

 

 

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