Pune: Holding that a "peaceful and stable" Pakistan was in India's interest, Defence Minister AK Antony on Tuesday said that the neighbouring country must initiate strong action against terrorist groups operating from its soil, in order to improve Indo-Pak ties.
"We are concerned about terrorist groups in Pakistan. They should take strong action against them which will help improve our relations," he told reporters here when asked whether change of government in Pakistan could spell a better relationship between the two countries.
Describing Pakistan as "our closest neighbour", Antony said Indian government wanted friendly relations with it as a "peaceful and stable" Pakistan was in India's interest. On Indo-China relations and border situation, the defence minister said, "the recent problem has been solved to the satisfaction of both the countries. We have a mechanism to sort out occasional irritants," adding, that there was a "highest level decision" to maintain peace and tranquillity along the border.
Both countries would also have joint exercises, he noted. Antony said notwithstanding the long standing border dispute, there were major areas of cooperation between India and China, also India's "largest trading partner". He hoped his forthcoming visit to China would further improve the bilateral relations and defence cooperation between the two countries.
The Defence Minister who was here to attend the foundation laying ceremony of the new Southern Command hospital here, in reply to a question to involve the army in anti-Naxal combat operations, said, "the army's role is to protect national security. In the anti-Naxal operations it can only offer logistics support and training."
Asked about the proposal for creating a post of Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), Antony said the matter had been referred to a committee and the government had not taken any final decision on the issue on which suggestions from political parties too would be invited.
Earlier, the defence minister and the Chief of Army Staff Gen Bikram Singh expressed their satisfaction at the proposed modern medical facilities envisaged in the new command hospital project expected to be completed by 2015. "The government is committed to welfare and comprehensive health care of the armed forces personnel," he added.