US lauds India’s patience on terror, assistance to Afghanistan (Roundup)

January 20th, 2010 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) In their first engagement at the ministerial level between their defence administrations since the Obama administration assumed office, the US Wednesday lauded India’s patience after the brazen 26/11 Mumbai attacks and termed as “ideal” New Delhi’s assistance in rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan.
Visiting US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates also hard-pitched for two long-pending military pacts with India. The two countries also discussed China’s military build-up, with Washington urging greater interaction between the Asian giants.

Gates arrived in India Tuesday on a two-day visit and has met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, besides Antony. This is his second visit here since 2006, when he served in the Bush administration. In an unusual move, US President Barack Obama retained him to ensure continuity in policies.

Appreciating India’s restraint after the Mumbai attacks, Gates said it was “not reasonable” to think that New Delhi’s patience would be unlimited in the face of another terrorist act.

“India has responded with great restraint and statesmanship after the Mumbai terror attacks. But the ability to continue with it after another attack is under question… It is not reasonable to assume that Indian patience is unlimited in case of another attack,” Gates said at a press conference here after meeting Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony.

Speaking about India’s assistance to Afghanistan, Gates said: “I think, frankly, the kind of extraordinary support India is providing is ideal.”

At the same time, he added: “Let us be honest that there are real suspicions in both India and Pakistan about what the other is doing in Afghanistan. Let the countries take up the work with full transparency as this would help allay suspicions and provide greater opportunities for development.”

In this context, Gates appreciated the “insights” provided by his Indian counterpart, A.K. Antony, at their meeting earlier Wednesday on India’s efforts in Afghanistan.

He also warned the terrorist groups operating in the Af-Pak region were dangerous for the stability of the entire South Asian region, Gates sought greater cooperation among countries to reduce the threat.

“They are a syndicate of terrorists operating to destabilise the region…It is intended to destabilize not only Afghanistan or Pakistan but whole region. They may lead India and Pakistan to war by a provocative act. It is dangerous for the whole region,” he added.

Gates also sought to build up momentum for two military pacts - the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and the Communications, Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) that have been pending since 2002.

Gates said that under CISMOA, India would be provided with “sophisticated communication equipment” and basic exchanges in the “geo-spatial area”.

The pact also figured during Gates meeting with the prime minister Tuesday.

“LSA was the other agreement we have talked about. What I promised the prime minister was that we would do a better job putting them on paper,” Gates said.

On his part, Antony “expressed the view that the proposed agreements would need to be assessed from the view point of the benefits which would accrue to India”, a defence ministry statement said.

On his discussions with Antony on China’s military build-up, Gates said: “We did talk in more generic terms about the security of the Indian Ocean. There was discussion about China’s military modernisation programme, what it meant and the intentions for the military build up,” Gates told reporters here after meeting Antony.

“There is a desire to engage China militarily, to have more routine dialogue so that we can iron out any misunderstandings. Dialogue plays an important role in avoiding miscalculations. We feel that dialogue will be more productive,” added Gates.

Last year China staged its largest army exercise. Close to 50,000 troops were deployed during the cross-country tactical mobilisation exercise that sent alarm bells ringing in India as it was being seen as Beijing’s efforts to improve its ability to deploy troops in Tibet whenever reinforcements are required.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |