Groton, US: Pentagon spokespersons got into damage control mode after their newly installed chief, Leon Panetta, referred to India and China as "threats" on Thursday.
The US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, speaking to workers at a Connecticut shipyard that builds attack submarines, described an array of threats facing the United States, including Iran, North Korea and cyber-attacks.
He then added India and China to the list of security dangers, saying the United States would need to make clear to these "rising powers" that it would not be pulling out of the Pacific region.
"We face the threats from rising powers, China, India, others that we have to always be aware of, and try to make sure that we always have sufficient force protection out there in the Pacific to make sure they know we're never going anywhere," he said.
Though frequently voicing concerns over China's perceived military build-up, Washington never openly portrays China as a security threat. As for India, US officials generally tend to go overboard trying to portray the country as an increasingly vital ally and a country that the Pentagon is very keen to enhance security ties with.
Panetta's comments came even as president Barack Obama, on a tour to Southeast Asia, was preparing to summit with the heads of government of China and India in Bali, Indonesia.