Conflict & Justice

US defense secretary to visit India next month


U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta greets troops passing through the Transit Center at Manas on March 14, 2012 near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Panetta is slated to visit India next month, amid heightened tensions between the US and Pakistan.


Scott Olson

Pakistan fears that India may ink some major defense deals with the US, as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visits New Delhi next month.

The Nation cited the Times of India as saying that New Delhi is likely to finalize the acquisition of 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers in a government-to-government deal worth $647 million, as well as a $1.4 billion contract to buy 22 missile-armed helicopter gunships from Boeing.

Panetta's visit, and the possible arms purchases, come amid continuing tensions between the US and Pakistan over Islamabad's blocking of the NATO supply route into Afghanistan and the US president's refusal to apologize for drone attacks conducted in Pakistani territory.

Meanwhile, Lisa Curtis, a senior fellow at the Heritage Center, wonders if US-Pakistan relations will EVER get back to normal, while US lawmakers have voted in new curbs on aid to Islamabad -- including measures to tie future aid to the opening of the Afghanistan supply route.