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India did not say no to Panetta on Afghanistan: Pentagon

June 19, 2012 00:01 IST
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 on Monday. 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, the 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.

"Some reliable media sources said that the Indian authorities did not pay heed to demands and showed their reservations, because the Indians know or they should know that the Americans are grinding their own axe. It (the US) has very long history and experience in changing its loyalties.

They (the Americans) always chase their vested interests and have never cared for others interests nor for their miseries," the Taliban said.

"No doubt that India is a significant country in the region, but is also worth mentioning that they have full information about Afghanistan because they know each other very well in the long history. They are aware of the Afghans' aspirations, creeds and love for freedom. It is totally illogical they should plunge their nation into a calamity just for the American pleasure," the Taliban had added.

Last week, India and the US announced to hold tri-lateral consultations with Afghanistan, which the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton termed as part of the effort to bring stability and peace in Afghanistan.

Clinton highly appreciated India's role in this war-torn country. "We very much appreciate India's commitment to help build a better future for the Afghan people: helping them with more than $2 billion for development; supporting the New Silk Road Initiative; hosting the investment conference at the end of the month; providing security, training and support," she had said.

"I am very pleased that Afghanistan is getting this kind of encouragement and tangible support because it's in everyone's interests that Afghanistan be as secure and stable as possible," Clinton had said.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had said on his US visit earlier that he hoped that Afghans would be able to find a solution to their conflict within their constitution. "The external support will not be available to Afghanistan indefinitely. And that is the reason why we have impressed upon Afghanistan, and other countries who are remaining friends of Afghanistan, that we need to equip Afghanistan with a security force which consists of Afghans, which is trained by Afghans, or trained by others, but basically Afghan-led and Afghan," he had said.
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