Defence Secy Gates Briefs PM On Af-Pak Policy

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and briefed him on the broader contours of the new Af-Pak policy of the Obama Administration, which has almost reached its conclusion. During
defence secy gates briefs pm on af pak policy -...
PTI November 25, 2009 9:06 IST

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and briefed him on the broader contours of the new Af-Pak policy of the Obama Administration, which has almost reached its conclusion.

During the meeting, which lasted for about 30 minutes, the Defence Secretary appreciated India's contribution in the development of Afghanistan.

Gates informed Singh that the US is committed to its long term presence in Afghanistan. However, it would be gradually reducing its military component and enhancing its civilian presence in Afghanistan, the sources told PTI.

The two leaders also discussed the bilateral defence and strategic relationship between the two countries. They are also understood to have discussed counter-Terrorism methods and also about stepping up cooperation against the menace.

In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister spoke about the strengthening of Indo-US relationship and how it is important for regional and global stability. 

Singh said India has been working with Gates in the previous Bush Administration and looked forward to working with him in the Obama Administration too. Both the leaders were accompanied by top officials of their country.

The meeting assume significance as it comes hours before a Situation Room meeting by President Barack Obama to discuss his administration's strategy on Af-Pak region.  The US considers India as an effective partner in Afghanistan where New Delhi has been engaging in reconstruction activities.

In a meeting with US Congressmen, Singh thanked US lawmakers for their enormous support to the historic civilian nuclear deal, which was signed between India and the United States last year, thus ending decades of nuclear apartheid against New Delhi.

Singh said this when a group of eight influential Congressmen called on the PM at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, where he is staying.  The delegation of US Congressmen was led by Steny Hoyer; House Majority Leader; Howard Berman, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Gary Ackerman, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia; and Ed Markey, who had opposed the nuclear deal.

Influential Congressmen, Ed Royce, who is co-chair of the Congress India Caucus and Jim McDermott were also present at the meeting, besides Chris Van Hollen. 

Thanking the Congressmen for their support to the nuclear deal, the Prime Minister said it is an important milestone for the Indo-US relationship.  Singh said he looked forward to working with the US lawmakers to further strengthen the Indo-US relationship. PTI

 
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