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In India, Defense Secretary Panetta to urge leaders to take larger role in Afghan war

Posted by The Agonist on June 5th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

New Delhi | June 5

AP – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is urging leaders of India to play a more robust role in Afghanistan, as U. S tensions with Pakistan, India’s arch-rival, continue to churn.

India has not been a major military player in the war, largely focusing on economic development and reconstruction in Afghanstan, but U.S. defense officials said Panetta will talk with Indian leaders about possibly helping to train the Afghan army and police.

Such discussions, however, come at a particularly fragile time and risk further roiling U.S. relations with Pakistan.

On Monday a CIA drone strike targeted a top al-Qaida leader inside Pakistan. And that same day, NATO reached an agreement with other Central Asia nations that would bypass Pakistan to move military equipment in and out of Afghanistan.

Washington and Islamabad have been deadlocked over negotiations to re-open ground supply routes into Afghanistan that were shut down late last year after a U.S. airstrike mistakenly killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers.

It’s not clear whether the new NATO accord could be used to pressure Pakistan into reaching an agreement on opening its ground routes, or whether Panetta’s visit to India at this time would help or hinder that effort.

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