Mattis: US wants to resolve North Korea standoff diplomatically

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis to meet PM Modi next week in first India visit

India will not deploy troops in Afghanistan, the country's Defense Minister, Nirmala Sitharam, said on Tuesday after talks with her us counterpart.

Later, the two addressed a joint media conference where Mattis said the focus was on enhancing the defence relations between the two countries, with the USA viewing India as a regional stabilizer. "The secretary will also express US appreciation for India's important contributions toward Afghanistan's democracy, stability, prosperity, and security", reads a statement issued by the US Department of Defense.

The U.S. Congress had passed an amendment in December 2016 called "Enhancing Defense and Security Cooperation with India", which conferred on India the status of America's "major defense partner", a designation which was reaffirmed by the Trump administration during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the U.S. earlier this year.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis is expected to share his concerns over Afghanistan's security with India during his visit to New Delhi this week.

India is competing with arch-rival Pakistan for influence in Afghanistan, building dams, roads and a new parliament there.

Secretary Mattis and I agreed that we need to expand on the progress already made by encouraging co-production and co-development efforts. Pakistan, along with its all-weather ally China is deeply concerned over USA arms deal with India, besides growing Indian clout and role in Afghanistan peace process.

New Delhi will also enhance its efforts to train Afghan soldiers in counterterrorism and help build its police forces, Sitharaman said.

Cooperation in defence equipment grew steadily over past years. the USA is now a leading state-of-the art defence equipment supplier to India, the Defence Minister said.

"We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting", Trump said.

Speaking to reporters, the Defence Minister said, "India-US share strong and vibrant strategic partnership as world's largest democracies also share fundamental values and interests".

There can be no tolerance to terrorist safe havens.

Acknowledging the US' stand on terror, Nirmala Sitharaman said, "Both countries recognise the importance of holding those who use terror as state policy to account and to dismantle infrastructure that supports terror".

The comments come as President Donald Trump's administration has stepped up pressure on Pakistan for more action against militant groups operating from its soil that are blamed for attacks in India and neighbouring Afghanistan.

"India was never interested in playing a military role and it reiterated its stand again by turning down US request", said Kanika Sinha, a retired Delhi University professor.



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