WASHINGTON, June 6 (IANS): Ahead of next week's India-US strategic dialogue here, Pentagon has described India as a global power, which is meeting its responsibilities, and appreciated its work to help provide continuing support in Afghanistan.
"India is a global power, and they are meeting their responsibilities and we welcome that," Department of Defence spokesman Captain John Kirby told reporters Tuesday discounting reports that the US wanted India to step up its role in Afghanistan.
"I think the reports have been slightly exaggerated," he said when asked about media reports citing US officials that visiting US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta will encourage India to take a more active role in Afghanistan.
"I don't believe the secretary asked them to impress them to do more rather than expressed how much he appreciated the work they were doing to help provide support in Afghanistan and some of the things that that they have expressed interest in continuing to do in Afghanistan, but also in the region," Kirby said.
"And so I think it was really more a statement of appreciation for everything they've done and the hope that they'll continue to stay involved as a leader in the region."
When pressed if the US wanted to see India deepen its involvement in the Afghanistan war, Kirby said: "The Chicago summit encouraged countries around the world to continue to do more to invest in Afghanistan's future, and there was broad consensus at the Chicago summit by every nation attending to do just that."
But to characterise Panetta's visit to "India as some sort of poke in the chest to get them to do more would be to do his visit a disservice," he said.
"That's not why he's in India," Kirby said. "He's in India to thank them for their efforts at regional leadership and to look for ways to deepen our defence cooperation with India and our relationship with India. That is something he would like to do more of."
"But we're very appreciative of India's efforts in the region and in Afghanistan in particular," he added.
Pentagon's comments came a day after Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake said that the United States believes India has "the institutional capacity to become a world power."
Meanwhile, at the State Department, spokesman Mark Toner said: "We look forward, obviously, to next week's very important meeting as another opportunity to engage with our Indian counterparts.
"We believe our relationship with India is very strong and very positive, and moving in a positive trajectory."