India found itself drawn into this fight on Monday with a right-leaning website publishing remarks from a speech Hagel made in 2011 accusing India of causing trouble for Pakistan.
Reached for comments, the Indian embassy sought to play down the remarks, calling Hagel a "long-standing friend of India and a prominent votary of close India-US relations".
Conservative commentators pounced on Hagel's speech. "To assert that India is somehow at fault for supporting the same anti-Taliban elements that the US supports in Afghanistan borders on absurdity," wrote Lisa Curtis of conservative think tank Heritage Foundation in her blog.
Meanwhile, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia Robert Blake has termed India as one of the most trusted partners of the US in the Afghanistan region.