Refuting Taliban's claims that New Delhi rejected the U.S. call for greater engagement in Afghanistan, Washington praised India's huge role in Afghanistan while Pentagon said that the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's recent visit to India was very successful.
The Taliban had earlier praised India for resisting the U.S. call for a greater role in Afghanistan after the coalition troops leave in 2014.
We are pleased with the support that India is giving to strengthen security, stability, prosperity in Afghanistan, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Monday, according to an IANS report.
Pentagon reiterated the State Department's stance saying that India didn't say no to Panetta's proposals.
I did not hear the word no from the Indians on any specific list. To my knowledge no specific list was presented, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters Monday, according to agency reports.
I am not going to respond directly to the Taliban statement, but let me make it very clear that we had very productive conversations with our Indian partners about the future of strategic partnership with India, about closer military to military co-operation with Indians, Little said.
And we signaled very clearly, Secretary made it very clear that India has a very important role to play in regional security to include in the transition in Afghanistan. We look forward to working with the Indians. We made that very clear as well. I would put this in the category of a very successful visit, he said.
Nuland, however, said she was not aware that anybody has asked India to play a direct role in Afghanistan.
In a statement published on its website, the Taliban said that Panetta had arrived with the hope the host country will welcome their demand but failed as the host's answer was negative.
It is totally illogical they should plunge their nation into a calamity just for the American pleasure, the statement said.
During his recent visit to New Delhi, Panetta said that India was a linchpin in a new U.S. military strategy focused on Asia and urged India's leaders to continue with additional support to Afghanistan through trade and investment, reconstruction, and help for Afghanistan's security forces.
The religious extremist group said, The Indian people and their authorities are observing this illicit war for the last 12 years and they are aware of the Afghan nation and their demands.
Although full details of negotiations have not come out to the press, it seems that the host's answer was negative. The forth mentioned secretary moved empty-handed towards Kabul without gaining any success or progress in his efforts, the statement said.
The Indian government, one of Afghanistan's biggest donors, has spent about $2 billion on various development projects. However, India's contribution to security spending in Kabul is limited to training Afghan military officers at military institutions in India.
Pentagon spokesperson said the U.S. was very grateful to India for offering training to Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
Nuland expressed appreciation for the economic support that it's (India) giving; the support that it's giving to the Afghan National Security Forces, including in police training.