US, Indian Defense Chiefs Hold ‘Productive’ Talks

Posted June 6th, 2012 at 3:29 am (UTC-5)
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The Pentagon says U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had a “productive meeting” with his Indian counterpart, ahead of a policy speech on U.S.-India defense ties.

Before the talks Wednesday in New Delhi, the Pentagon said Panetta and Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony would discuss strengthening military cooperation between the two countries.

Panetta is closing a two-day trip during which he has encouraged India to take a more active role in Afghanistan and discussed broader regional security issues.

Earlier Wednesday he took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at an Indian war memorial and was welcomed by an honor guard.

India has provided $2 billion in aid to Afghanistan, and last October the two countries signed a strategic agreement pledging deeper security and economic ties. India is already helping Afghan security forces prepare for the withdrawal of international troops, set to be completed by the end of 2014.

On Tuesday, Secretary Panetta met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon. Officials say that during the meeting, India agreed to allow the United States to resume efforts to recover the remains of missing American service members lost in India during World War II.

The Pentagon estimates there are about 400 missing troops from some 90 aircraft crashes in India's northeast.