Panetta reiterates calls for greater Indian involvement in Afghanistan

“I think the reports have been slightly exaggerated,” department spokesman Capt. John Kirby told reporters during Tuesday's briefing. “I don't believe the secretary asked them … to do more rather than expressed how much he appreciated the work they were doing to help provide support in Afghanistan and some of the things that they were ― that they have expressed interest in continuing to do in Afghanistan, but also in the region.

“And so I think it was really more a statement of appreciation for everything they've done and the hope that they'll continue to stay involved as a leader in the region.”

Panetta's remarks have been seen as a way to tweak Pakistan, whose relationship with the United States is at a historic low following the raid against Osama bin Laden's compound and the accidental killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers by a U.S. strike last year. The United States and Pakistan are currently engaged in tough negotiations to reopen NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.