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Indo-US defence talks focuses China

A file photo of US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Indian Defence Minister A. K. Antony

NEW DELHI (PTI): China was a major focus during talks between US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Indian political leadership during his two-day visit.

In particular, China's defence modernisation programme and the impact of such a military build up to the security situation in the Indian Ocean region and Asian countries were the focus of the talks, Gates told reporters here, wrapping up his visit.

In his discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Defence Minister A K Antony, Gates said the two sides talked in "generic terms" about China and issues of mutual interest, apart from security in the Indian Ocean and "global commons" that he listed out as "air, sea, space, internet and ether."

"During my meetings with Singh and other leaders, we discussed China's military modernisation programme, or what are the intentions of their military build-up," he said to a specific question.

"I cannot talk about the desire on the Indian side, but I have to talk about the desire on our side to engage China in more routine and in-depth dialogue about strategic issues," Gates said.

Referring to his own role in engaging the former Soviet Union on nuclear arms reduction, he said though it had not contributed to reducing the number of nuclear arsenal on both sides, it did help in greater understanding. "I think such a dialogue with China will be more productive," he said.

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