General Richard Myers, chairman of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Monday began a critical visit to India meeting his counterpart Navy Chief Admiral Madhvendra Singh and later Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy.
The meetings came soon after his arrival in New Delhi. In the evening, he was scheduled to attend an official dinner with top Indian military officials.
Though General Myers refused to make any public statement, Indian officials expect him to focus on the American request for Indian peacekeeping troops for Iraq.
General Myers is the seniormost American official to visit India after the Cabinet Committee on Security on July 14 turned down a US request for Indian soldiers to augment its own troops in Iraq.
Only last week, he had in Washington said that the US was nudging India and Pakistan to send troops to Iraq.
The US is desperately seeking a United Nations mandate for troops from more countries to participate in the stabilisation force there. Few nations are willing to commit troops to Iraq without UN sanction.
On Tuesday, Myers would hold talks with National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra and top defence officials, including Army Chief General Nirmal Chand Vij, and the new Defence Secretary Ajay Prasad, who is also the co-chairman of the Indo-US Defence Policy Group, before flying to Pakistan.
The troops issue is expected to be taken up during the meeting of the Indo-US DPG in Washington August 4-6.
"It is on the agenda," an Indian official said. The DPG meeting was to be held in New Delhi, but was shifted to the US on the latter's request.