Emphasising India’s cooperation for developing stability in Afghanistan, U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said here that India is an important country in the region and whatever India can do to bring stability in Afghanistan would be very helpful.

“India is an important country in that region. And obviously, whatever India can do to try to help develop stability in that region, both working with Afghanistan as well as Pakistan, would be very helpful to the prospects of peace in the future,” Mr. Panetta told reporters yesterday during a Pentagon news conference.

Talking about Afghanistan, Mr. Panetta said their goal has always been an Afghanistan that can govern and secure itself and that can be a sovereign and independent country in that important region of the world and one that is sufficiently secure so that al-Qaeda never again finds a safe heaven from which to conduct attacks on our country or anyplace else.

“That’s the goal. And that’s the kind of Afghanistan that I think we’re trying to work towards and I think it’s the kind of Afghanistan the Afghan people want to have for the future as well,” Mr. Panetta said in response to a question.

Benghazi attack

He said Pentagon decided against sending U.S. troops to Benghazi during the attack on the U.S. Consulate as too little information and intelligence was available and it would have put lives of U.S. troops at risk.

“We quickly responded in terms of deploying forces to the region. We had fast platoons in the region. We had ships that we had deployed off of Libya. We were prepared to respond to any contingency, and certainly had forces in place to do that,” Mr. Panetta said.

“But the basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harms’ way without knowing what’s going on, without having some real time information about what’s taking place," Mr Panetta added.

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