‘India did not say no to Panetta on Afghanistan’



Washington: Terming Defence Secretary Leon Panetta's recent India visit as highly successful, the Pentagon on Monday refuted the Taliban statement that New Delhi resisted his call for greater Indian involvement in Afghanistan.

"I did not hear the word no from the Indians on any specific list. To my knowledge no specific list was presented," the Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little, told reporters during an off camera news conference today.

He was responding to questions on the rare statement made by the Taliban over the weekend in which the terrorist outfit praised India for resisting Panetta's reported call for greater Indian involvement in Afghanistan.

"I am not going to respond directly to the Taliban statement, but let me make it very clear that we had very productive conversations with our Indian partners about the future of strategic partnership with India, about closer military to military co-operation with Indians," Little said.

"And we signaled very clearly, Secretary made it very clear that India has a very important role to play in regional security to include in the transition in Afghanistan. We look forward to working with the Indians.

We made that very clear as well. I would put this in the category of a very successful visit," he said.

"The Indians have been training ANSF. We are very grateful of their contribution to that effort," Little said in response to a question.

In a commentary on "Voice of Jihad", the Taliban said that the Indians had a "negative" answer to Panetta's wish list for India on Afghanistan.

"The forth mentioned secretary moved empty handed towards Kabul without gaining any success or progress in his efforts. He spent three days in India to transfer the heavy burden to their shoulders, to find an exit and to flee from Afghanistan," the terrorist outfit had said in the statement.

PTI