The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Myers sidesteps troops

New Delhi, July 29: The US’ senior-most military officer, General Richard B. Myers, today wound up a visit to Delhi with briefings on the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to key figures in the security establishment and claimed he did not reopen the issue of deploying Indian troops in Iraq.

Myers, the chief of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff committee, left for Islamabad after meetings with national security adviser Brajesh Mishra, chief of army staff General .C. Vij and defence secretary Ajay Prasad. Before the meetings this morning, Myers said he was not making the visit with the specific objective of renewing the US request to India to contribute to a stabilisation force in Iraq.

He stressed it was important to note that the effort in Iraq now involved a coalition of 34 countries with presence on the ground. He said India’s July 14 decision not to send troops to Iraq unless there was a UN mandate would not impinge on military-to-military relations.

“India’s refusal to send troops does not bother us. The US is a good friend of India. I am grateful for India’s cooperation in continuing the war on terrorism,” he said at a news conference.

Myers said in his talks with his counterpart, Admiral Madhvendra Singh, yesterday, he gave an assessment of the situation in Iraq “but we really did not discuss troop deployment because India has already made a decision on that”.

Official sources said Myers’ talks with officials of the defence ministry touched upon four points. He emphasised that Washington remained interested in continuing military-to-military relations. In pursuance of this, Myers drew up a rough roadmap on the meetings of the Defence Policy Group and the inter-services executive steering groups that are likely to be held in Washington next month.

The general was understood to have told the Indian officials that the US remained “deeply committed to Afghanistan” and was concerned about the situation on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

In his assessment of Iraq, General Myers said the situation in the country was better than what media reports suggest. “In our analysis, most of the resistance in Iraq in confined to areas in and around Baghdad and Tikrit and they are from the remnants of the Saddam regime.”

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