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American Forces Press Service

Rumsfeld Discusses Defense Issues With Indian Officials

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

NEW DELHI, India, Dec. 9, 2004 -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met this morning with India's minister of defense, Pranab Mukherjee, to discuss defense issues, including military cooperation and the war on terrorism.

"The defense relationship (between India and the United States) is a strong one and something we intend to see is further knitted together as we go forward in the months and years ahead," Rumsfeld said in a brief public statement at the Ministry of Defense following the meeting.

A short time later, Rumsfeld told American media traveling with him that he and Singh had an "excellent discussion about all aspects of the defense relationship" between the two countries.

The secretary said the Indians have been "terrifically helpful" in Afghanistan. They've provided $400 million in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance.

Further Indian assistance to Iraq -- India already has contributed $20 million in humanitarian aid and are hoping to help train Iraqi election officials -- was discussed in this morning's meetings, Rumsfeld said. But he declined to speak of the outcome of discussions on this issue.

"I . leave it to other countries to describe their reactions about things rather than me trying to do it for them," Rumsfeld said.

Referring to Iran, with which India has close business ties, the secretary said "the word came up" in a passing reference, but it was not a major topic of discussion.

After his meeting with Mukherjee and the brief question-and-answer session with American press traveling with him, Rumsfeld was scheduled to visit the tomb of Humayun, a Muslim Mughal emperor in the 16th century.

Rumsfeld was also due to meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the country's national security adviser, Shri J.N. Dixit, before leaving New Delhi to return to Washington.

The secretary has been traveling overseas since Dec. 5. He and Vice President Dick Cheney attended the inauguration of President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan on Dec. 7, and Rumsfeld spoke to U.S. troops at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, on Dec. 8.

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