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Panetta to meet Antony, focus likely on China

Visiting US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta will today hold a meeting with Defence Minister A K Antony where the two sides are expected to discuss the entire gamut of their strategic and military relationship and the situation in the Af-Pak region.

delhi Updated: Jun 06, 2012 12:47 IST
Panetta to meet Antony

Visiting US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta will on Wednesday hold a meeting with Defence Minister A K Antony where the two sides are expected to discuss the entire gamut of their strategic and military relationship and the situation in the Af-Pak region.

"During the meeting, the ongoing defence cooperation and regional security situation will figure prominently," the Defence Ministry said in a release.

China is also expected to figure in the discussions between the two countries, which have been increasing their military cooperation in the recent past. The Indian side is also expected to take up the issue of denial of dual-use items by the US to the laboratories under the DRDO.

The issue has been discussed earlier at the meetings of the Defence Policy Group also where India has demanded that the definition of dual-use items should be reviewed by the US authorities.

The US side is also likely to push India to sign the long-pending agreements such as the CISMOA and LSA but it is believed that New Delhi will not change its position.

US officials said India has agreed to resume a mission to recover the remains of American soldiers who went missing during World War II in the Northeast.

To bolster bilateral defence ties and step up cooperation on Afghanistan, US defence secretary Leon Panetta arrived in India Tuesday on a two-day visit.

What adds significance to Panetta visit is the United States’ eagerness to conclude two major military deals, and his own recent overtures about China’s growing military assertiveness.

On Tuesday, Panetta began his visit by meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon.

The US and India have stepped up their engagement on Afghanistan as Western forces get ready to keep their presence in that country minimal. India maintains that whatever happens in Afghanistan, in its extended neighbourhood, has direct implications on its national security. According to officials, India will urge the US to exert more pressure on Pakistan to dismantle terrorist havens on its border that is holding up the fight against terrorism in the region.

New Delhi would also like to get the US assessment of the increasing Chinese military assertiveness in the region. Panetta has been quite vocal about the topic.

(With PTI inputs)