US Defense Secretary Panetta in India next week

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

Must read

Washington DC – US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is scheduled to land in New Delhi next week to apprise India of the outcome of the recently concluded NATO Summit in Chicago and to cement the US-India strategic relationship, senior defense officials told journalists on Tuesday at the Pentagon.

Secretary Panetta left Washington, DC on Wednesday for a nine day tour to Asia and will be in New Delhi for the last two days of his trip. He will first travel to Singapore where he will attend the Shangri-La Dialogue and then to Vietnam.

 “The secretary has been eager to visit India since assuming his post last summer,” the official said, adding, “US-India defense ties are extremely important in a whole host of ways. Strategically, we see India as a partner with whom we have a lot of common interests and a lot of areas where we can work well together.”

Outlining a broad agenda, officials said the secretary will discuss implications of the strategic guidance for US-India military-to-military relations, the outcome of the NATO summit, long-term trends in South Asia and the region, and the burgeoning trade in defense supplies.

Describing the relationship with India as “broad, strategic and continual,” the official said, “With India, we are getting to a place where this type of interaction is just part of the norm of the relationship, where we engage on a whole range of issues — strategic issues, cooperative issues and a whole range of cooperative issues.”

In addition to meeting his Indian counterpart, A.K. Antony, and other senior Indian officials, Secretary Panetta will be delivering a major policy speech in New Delhi, the Pentagon official said.

Pressed to give further details of the program and agenda, the official declined, saying he would “want the trip to unfold.”

This is Panetta’s second trip to the region since taking office and comes on the heels of a recent trip to India by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Unlike Clinton, who visited Kolkata and New Delhi, Panetta will stay in the Indian capital both days of his visit.

“The core of what we’re trying to do in this swing through Asia is give a comprehensive account to everyone in the region about what the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific [region] will mean in practice,” the senior defense official said. (IATNS)

More articles

Latest article