In an exclusive interview with Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, Leon Panetta, former US Secretary of Defence and ex-CIA director, said that India is an extremely important ally for the United States, particularly for security reasons. He also exposed the Taliban and Pakistan for their role in supporting terrorism.
"This is about the Indo-Pacific, the ability of our countries to work together. We're facing challenges from China, Russia, terrorism from that region," Panetta, who was the CIA chief from July 2011 to February 2013 when al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed, said.
He further said that there is a tremendous opportunity for US and India for confronting the challenges of both countries together be it the "pandemic, economic issues, AI." He asserted that our (India and US) ability to defend and prosper in the future will depend on how strong our relations are with each other.
Leon Panetta said that the key to providing prosperity depends on strong alliances. "Ability to provide peace and prosperity depends on whether we have strong alliances. Quad is one of such alliances," he said.
The Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) is a strategic dialogue between India, Japan, Australia and the United States.
The former CIA chief criticised the Taliban government and their Afghanistan takeover. He said that the Taliban is going to provide safe haven to terrorism. "Pakistan was using their relationship with terror as leverage. Obama never trusted Pakistan so we had to do the operation ourselves on Osama," he said. Panetta further stressed that "we must be vigilant with Pakistan."
Panetta also advised the Xi Jinping administration to not trust the Taliban. "China ought to be aware that they are dealing with someone who doesn't play by rules," he said.
His remarks come on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is holding bilateral talks with US President Joe Biden. The duo will also attend a QUAD meet with Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japan PM Yoshihide Suga.