New Delhi: US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday described India and the US as natural partners, saying the two countries share interests and views.
“Our relationship is, has and should become more strategic,” Panetta said, addressing a function here at the end of his two-day India visit.
Calling the bilateral relationship as the defining partnership of the 21st century, the top US official stressed on expanding the military partnership.
Panetta said it was important to develop India’s capabilities so that it can respond to challenges in the region. He added that India and the US will need to continue to engage Pakistan.
“India is at crossroads of Asia... new global economy... and regional security. We will stand with India at those crossroads,” Panetta said.
Panetta said during his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister AK Antony, he discussed piracy, terrorism, issues on South China Sea, North Korea, cyber intrusion and warfare.
On Afghanistan, Panetta said the US was making efforts towards a successful transition. “We will take steps to ensure stability in Afghanistan,” he added.
The US official further described India’s involvement in international forums as critical.
He further said that the US was committed to providing the best possible technology to India, especially in the defence sector.