Washington: US Defence Secretary Leon
Panetta, who views Indo-US ties as one of the most important
bilateral relationships, is looking forward to travel to India
in not too distant future, a top Pentagon official said Wednesday.
"I know Secretary Panetta looks forward to having direct
engagement with (the Indian Defence) Minister (A K) Antony so
that he can talk directly to him about the range of bilateral
issues that we have," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence
Robert Scher said
No date has been determined yet on Defence Secretary
Panetta`s visit to India.
"Nothing firmly scheduled, but it`s my clear intent to
make it work in not too distant future," he said.
"Let me assure you that I know personally that the
Secretary of Defence sees the Indian relationship as one of
the most important bilateral relationships that we have with
any country," Scher said.
"He looks forward to going to India, hopefully in the not
too distant future to talk about this directly," Scher said.
Though he is yet to make his trip to India as the Defence
Secretary, Panetta had visited India as the head of the
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and had played a key role in
improving intelligence co-operation between the two countries.
Responding to questions, Scher also appreciated India`s
role in Afghanistan and said New Delhi can play an important
role in the stability and security of the war-torn country.
"Most importantly India`s cooperation with Afghanistan is
a bilateral issue between the two governments. But I do think,
and we have conversation with the Government of India, we
understand that India can and will play an important role in
the stability and security of Afghanistan," he said when asked
about the recent India-Afghan Strategic partnership agreement.