Panetta: US, India Must Overcome Differences With Pakistan

Posted June 6th, 2012 at 9:55 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the United States and India need to overcome “often deep” differences with Pakistan to ensure peace and prosperity in South Asia.

As he wrapped up his two-day visit to India Wednesday, Panetta said Pakistan is a “complicated relationship” for both countries, but it is one the United States and India “must continue to work to improve.”

And while Pakistan is suspicious of India playing a larger role in the region — especially in reconstructing Afghanistan — Panetta said it is in the interest of both Pakistan and India to stabilize their neighbor.

India already is one of the top investors in Afghanistan by providing some $2 billion in aid. Last October, the two countries signed a strategic agreement pledging deeper security and economic ties.

During his trip, Panetta urged India to expand its Afghan assistance further by increasing its training of the Afghan army and police as international troops prepare to pull out in 2014.

The secretary also outlined his vision for a deeper strategic relationship with India as he said the United States “rebalances towards the Asia Pacific region.”

During his visit, Panetta spoke with top Indian officials about increasing defense trade and plans to conduct more military exercises.

India was Panetta's third stop on his tour of Asia. During his visits to Vietnam and Singapore, he signaled plans to strengthen the U.S. presence in the Pacific Ocean.