Antony meets Rice, National Security Chief

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Washington, Sep 10 (UNI) Defence Minister A K Antony completed his four-day visit here last night after a series of discussions with the top US officials, including state Secretary Condoleezza Rice and President Bush's National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.

Mr Antony, who led a high-power delegation, began his day with a meeting with his US counterpart Robert Gates after receiving a formal guard of honour at the Pentagon.

His delegation comprised Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, Lieutenant General V K Singh (Eastern Commander), Air Marshal S Mukherjee, and Director General (Acquisitions) S K Shar.

Though there was no formal briefing on Mr Antony's meetings with the US officials, they are believed to have discussed ways and means to strengthen bilateral relations in the field of defence between the two countries.

They also reviewed the growing military-to military relations, marked by the joint exercises.

Mr Gates visited New Delhi in February last, but External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was the last Indian defense minister to visit the US in 2005. This is Mr Antony's first visit here after assuming the charge of the Defence Ministry.

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