India not sold on closer military ties with US

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Defense Secretary Leon E Panetta urged India to build a closer military relationship with the United States, but Indian leaders appeared more interested in buying US weapons than in aligning strategically with Washington, according to a report in Daily News and Analysis.
Senior Indian officials made it clear in two days of talks that they will continue to set their own course on US national security priorities, including isolating Iran and building up Afghanistan’s military forces, sometimes in tandem with Washington and sometimes not.
Panetta is visiting Asia this week to bolster military ties as the Obama administration, wary of China’s growing clout in the region, seeks to reassert America’s presence in the Pacific after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Pentagon chief described enhanced defense cooperation with India as “a linchpin” of the new strategy. But India has charted an independent foreign policy for decades, and its response was decidedly cool.
Panetta held meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defense Minister A.K. Antony, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and other government officials. But he did not hold a joint news conference with his Indian counterpart, as he usually does when he visits friendly countries.
“We’ll never be an alliance partner with the US,” said Lalit Mansingh, an analyst and a former Indian ambassador to Washington. “The limit is a partnership.” The Pentagon has stationed tens of thousands of troops, plus aircraft and warships, at bases in Japan and South Korea since the end of World War II. But the US withdrew from most of Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War ended in 1975, and major bases in the Philippines closed in the early 1990s.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (R) talks with Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony during a meeting at the Ministry of Defence in New Delhi
The US maintains a large Navy ship and submarine support facility and air base on Diego Garcia, a British-controlled atoll in the Indian Ocean. It has no bases in India.
The new strategy aims to restore a US military presence across the Asia-Pacific region, but not by building permanent bases or deploying large forces.
Instead, Panetta emphasized, the United States seeks to build up the militaries of friendly governments with arms sales and joint training with US forces deployed on short rotations. The message was meant to reassure Indian officials, who are eager to modernize their armed forces but not to appear too cozy with Washington.

1 COMMENT

  1. .
    It's very credible that India maintained it's independent foreign policy all along …

    Wish Pakistan did the same …
    .

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