India a global power: Pentagon
Washington: Coinciding with the New Delhi visit of Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, the Pentagon on Tuesday said India is a global power and is meeting its responsibilities in this capacity.
It refuted reports that Panetta's call for more deeper involvement in Afghanistan is not "potentially provocative" against Pakistan.
"India is a global power and they are meeting their responsibilities and we welcome that," Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt John Kirby told reporters.
Responding to questions at a Pentagon news conference, Kirby said Panetta during his ongoing India visit expressed his gratitude for what India has done in Afghanistan and hoped that they will continue to stay engaged in the region, and in particular in helping Afghanistan as it moves forward.
Kirby said the reports that Panetta asked India to step up its efforts in Afghanistan is slightly exaggerated.
"I think the reports have been slightly exaggerated. I don't believe the Secretary asked them to or pressed 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," he said.
"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. It is a vital part of the world. And our engagement in the region is not about bilateral relations only with any one particular country. We've long said that security in Afghanistan is tied very closely to our relationship with Pakistan, as it is also with our relationship with other countries in the region, including India," Kirby said.
The US, he said, encourages all countries in the region, which came out of the Chicago summit, and around the world to continue to do more to invest in Afghanistan's future.
"There was broad consensus at the Chicago summit by every nation attending to do just that. But to characterize this -- the Secretary'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. That's not why he's in India," he said.
"He's in India to thank them for their efforts at regional leadership and to look for ways to deepen our defense 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," Kirby said.