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US defence chief slips, calls India a 'threat'

Friday November 18, 2011 07:40:16 PM, Arun Kumar, IANS

Washington: In an apparent slip, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta seemed to bracket China and India as "threats" but the Pentagon quickly moved to correct the impression.

"There are still threats out there. We face threats from Iran; we face threats from North Korea; we face threats from cyber," Panetta said while talking to workers Thursday at a submarine plant in Connecticut about emerging challenges facing the US beyond the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Then turning to concerns over "rising powers", Panetta said: "We face the threats from rising powers -- China, India, others -- that we have to always be aware of and try to make sure that we always have sufficient force protection out there in the Pacific to make sure they know we're never going anywhere."

But Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby quickly sought to correct the impression, saying Panetta believed that relationships with both China and India were absolutely vital.

"Any suggestion that he was implying either country was a military threat is just false," Kirby said suggesting Panetta was referring instead to the challenges that China and India face "within themselves".

"And (he was referring to) the challenges that we share with them as we try to forge better relationships going forward in a very turbulent, dynamic security environment," Kirby said.

However, the transcript of Panetta's address on the US Defense department website continues to carry the reference to "threats from rising powers -- China, India, others" sans any explanation.

A story on the event on the website said: "Panetta also noted the 'rising powers' of China and India. He said his and President Barack Obama's recent visits to the Pacific region were to ensure 'we always have sufficient force protection out there in the Pacific to make sure they know we're never going anywhere'."



(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)


 


 

 

 

 

 

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