Washington: The United States is working to contain Lashkar-e-Taiba (leT), the Pakistani-based terrorist organization held responsible for the Nov 2008 Mumbai attacks, in South Asia, according to a top US commander. “We find ourselves working with partners in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives to build their capacities to deal with this organization independently,” admiral Robert F Willard told reporters attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference in Hawaii.

India, with a large, growing economy and the largest democracy in the world, was a key focus for Pacific Command, he said according to the US defence department.

“We have a strategic partnership that continues to grow, both government-to-government and military-to-military,” Willard said of US relations with India.

India has the largest military in South Asia, the admiral said, yet the US-India military-to-military relationship is relatively new.

“We were not particularly close during the Cold War, and when we did begin to reengage, those relationships were interrupted following nuclear tests in the late 1990s,” he said.

“From a military standpoint, we've been engaged with India for only about seven or eight years.”

“We engage with the Indian armed forces across all the services,” the admiral said, “and we contribute to issues such as piracy in the Gulf of Aden and elsewhere in the Indian Ocean region, and broader maritime security throughout the region.”

Growing the relationship with India and managing the relationship with China are two of US Pacific Command's key objectives, Willard said.

The US relationship with China is undergoing tremendous change given China's economic and military advancements, he said.

The US policy is to encourage the Chinese to be more transparent about their military and military spending, Willard said.