A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern over the situation in Iraq where India has “vital stakes” and called for a smooth transition of power in Afghanistan, US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel Saturday assured that the US will not abandon Afghanistan without strengthening its institutions.
Justifying the air strikes in Iraq as a decision “based on US interests in northern Iraq”, Hagel called for partnership with the Indian government in “that part of the world”. Hagel was addressing a select gathering of decision makers and strategists organised by Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
Hagel said that India has stakes in Afghanistan by virtue of being in its neighbourhood and the US is looking for diplomatic as well as military partnership with India in the region. “We are not abandoning Afghanistan…US is committed to Afghanistan security forces beyond 2016,” Hagel said.
Calling India a “power” and appreciating the Modi government’s gesture to invite neighbouring countries for his swearing in, Hagel called for a greater cooperation from India in the Asia-Pacific region. “We are working to expand the role of G20 and call for India to be a part of the United Nations Security Council,” Hagel said, adding, “India need not choose between US or China…(but look for) a peaceful order where China is a fellow trustee with both the nations.”