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Panetta Explains New Strategic Guidance to Indian Leaders

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

NEW DELHI, June 5, 2012 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta met with Indian leaders today to explain how the U.S. strategic guidance will shift American focus to the Asia-Pacific region.

Panetta landed at a military airport and immediately went into meetings with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and National Security Advisor Shivshankar Memon.

Panetta discussed U.S. military initiatives to rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and the importance the United States places on India, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said. A senior defense official said the U.S. has excellent military-to-military relations with India and would like to build on the success of the last decade. In 2011, the United States participated in more than 50 exercises with the Indian military. This is in addition to a robust exchange program and multilateral operations.

India, in fact, is the only country specifically mentioned as a key partner in DOD’s strategic guidance issued in January.

The secretary underscored the link India provides between eastern and western Asia and how the United States views the country as a provider of security from the Indian Ocean to Afghanistan and beyond, Little said in a written statement following the meetings.

The leaders also discussed the U.S.-India defense relationship including shared security challenges.

U.S. officials say Panetta was very encouraged by the Indian government’s support for resuming the recovery of remains of Americans lost over northeastern India during World War II.

DOD believes there are about 400 unaccounted-for service members from some 90 aircraft crashes in the area during the war. The airmen were flying “The Hump” -- an air bridge over the Himalayas to China, a region that is home to some of the world’s worst weather.   “This is a critical step toward bringing home our service members lost during World War II,” Panetta said. “The United States and India, working together, can help provide comfort to the families of Americans who were lost during the war.”

The United States has information on 16 known crash sites and continues to develop information on others.

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Biographies:
Leon E. Panetta

Related Sites:
Special Report: Travels With Panetta
U.S. State Department Background Notes: India



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