US defence secretary Leon Panetta
US defence secretary Leon Panetta Reuters

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta will meet Indian Defence Minister AK Antony on Wednesday to discuss on the strategic and military relationship between the two nations.

"During the meeting, the ongoing defence cooperation and regional security situation will figure prominently," the Defence Ministry had said in a press release on Tuesday.

Panetta is likely to discuss the situation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and also about China's growing military assertiveness.

He is also expected to discuss about India's role in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US forces from the country by 2014. However, India is worried about the implications on the National security if the US pulls out, America's secret talks with the Taliban and Pakistan's role, reports IBN Live.

Panetta, who is on a two-day visit to India, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his 7 Race Course residence on Tuesday and had an hour long discussions, during which it is believed that he had talked about Af-Pak and military trade. Panetta also met national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon.

During his meeting with the Defence Minister, the Pentagon chief may push India to buy US military equipments after elimination of US fighters from the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition to acquire 126 fighters in the world's biggest combat aircraft deal.

US may also urge India to sign long-pending agreements such as Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), which will make India eligible to purchase some of the best advanced US technologies. But the Indian government has decided to maintain its decision not to sign the agreements.

From India's side, the Defence Minister is expected to raise the issue of denial of dual-use systems by the US laboratories to the laboratories under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). In previous meetings, India had asked US to review the definition of dual-use systems.

Talks are also likely to be held on US decision to shift its naval fleet including as many as six aircraft carriers to the Asia-Pacific region by 2020. Panetta reportedly said at a security conference in Singapore that US would shift majority of its warships to Pacific region. He, however, denied any speculations that the move is planned to contain China's growth as a global power.

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