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U.S., Indian Leaders Agree to Expand Military Ties

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

NEW DELHI, India, Nov. 5, 2001 – U.S. and Indian defense leaders agreed in a meeting here today to expand military cooperation between the two countries and to increase military-to-military ties in the coming year.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes faced the press after their meeting. Fernandes said he was happy with the discussions. Topics included anti-terrorism measures, the strategic relationship between the countries and relationships among the nations of the region.

Rumsfeld said the United States and India need to strengthen their defense ties. He said a team from U.S. Pacific Command will travel to India soon to begin the process of implementing military-to-military contacts.

The two men spoke broadly about anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan, the region and world. Rumsfeld assured the Indians that the United States was in this effort for the long haul.

Earlier in the week, Fernandes had disparaged U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. He was quoted as saying the bombing is "a waste of explosives on barren mountains. The most it will do is melt the ice on the peaks earlier than usual.

Rumsfeld explained why the United States was going after Al Qaeda and the Taliban and how the campaign has become vastly more effective since U.S. service members have been placed with Northern Alliance opposition forces.

For his part, Fernandes said, "It's the military men who decide the military tactics, so, one should accept what is happening."

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Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability with Minister of Defense of India, Nov. 5, 2001

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