There Can Be No Safe Havens for Terrorists

Wednesday, 27 Sep, 2017

India will continue to provide developmental and medical assistance to the nation, but will not send in troops, she said.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis met his counterpart Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi.

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 U.S. viewing India as a regional stabilizer.

Addressing a joint press conference with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Mattis said he appreciated India's effort along with the worldwide community to increase pressure against North Korea over "its risky and destabilising behaviour".

Mattis is the first cabinet rank official to visit India under the Donald Trump administration.

Delhi and Washington share concerns about Afghanistan, with Trump announcing a new strategy for the war-torn country last month which cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more USA troops.

Shamila Chaudhary, who worked on U.S. President Barack Obama's failed South Asia policy, criticized Trump's strategy as inherently contradictory, warning that it may prompt Pakistan to intensify its support to terrorist groups in response to India's involvement in Afghanistan. The meeting came in the wake of United States calling for the increased participation of India in the efforts in war-torn Afghanistan. Cooperation in defence equipment grew steadily over past years and the United States is now a leading state-of-the-art defence equipment supplier to India, Sitharaman said. India's agenda is to build capacity of Afghan security forces, enabling them to fight their own battles more effectively.

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"The very same forces which find safe haven in Pakistan have been the ones who have hit NY as much as Mumbai", Sitharaman said.

Mattis' visit is meant to underscore the USA commitment to India as a strategic partner.

Mattis said the talks covered ways to further enhance defense trade and technology collaboration between defense industries.

"We also believe that disputes should be resolved through peaceful means and in accordance with the universally recognised principles of global law", Sitharaman said in an apparent reference to China's dispute with countries in the rim of South China Sea.

According to Mattis, there can be no safe haven anywhere for terrorists, though he did not name Pakistan.

We also discussed how to refocus and re-energize the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) as a mechanism to promote technology sharing as well as co development and co-production efforts. But as India emerged a serious economic player in Afghanistan and Pakistan continued with its destabilizing activities, Washington came to recognize that India's role in Afghanistan is a net positive.

The minister was replying to a question about India's contribution in Afghanistan and whether it would deploy its troops there.