India concerned about terror groups in Pakistan: Antony

Pune, June 18 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony Tuesday said India is concerned about terror groups operating from Pakistan and Islamabad must initiate strong action against such groups in order to improve bilateral ties.

“We are concerned about terrorist groups in Pakistan. They should take strong action against them,” said the defence minister, adding that it would help improve bilateral ties.

He was answering a query on if the new government of Nawaz Sharif would help bring about improvement in ties.

Antony said New Delhi wants friendly ties with Islamabad as a “peaceful and stable” Pakistan is in India’s interest.

On ties with China where he is slated to go next month, Antony said both sides had resolved the three-week border stand-off to mutual satisfaction last month.

“We have a mechanism to sort out occasional irritants,” he said, adding that both countries had taken the decision at the “highest level” to maintain peace and tranquillity along the border.

He hoped his forthcoming visit to China would give a further fillip to bilateral relations and defence cooperation.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the foundation laying ceremony of the new Southern Command hospital here, Antony also ruled out deploying the army for anti-Maoist operations.

Asked if the army would be involved against the Maoists, he said: “The army’s role is to protect national security”, and added that the army could offer only logistics support and training in combating the Maoists.

On the proposal for creating a post of chief of defence staff (CDS), Antony said the issue has been referred to a panel. He said the government had not taken any final decision and would invite political parties to give their suggestions on the matter.

Both Antony and Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh expressed their satisfaction at the modern medical facilities planned in the new command hospital project, which is expected to be completed by 2015.

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