New Delhi, September 26: After concluding very substantive, constructive and forward-looking talks Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her United States counterpart James Mattis held a bilateral press briefing in New Delhi on Tuesday. During the joint press briefing, India ruled out deploying its troops in Afghanistan but will expand its development activities to help stabilize the war-torn country.
Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “There shall not be any boots on the ground from India.” While giving a response to a question at a joint press conference the defence minister said, “India will continue its development and medical assistance to Afghanistan but will not send troops.” “I had useful discussions with Secretary Mattis on how we could strengthen our cooperation bilaterally as well as with the Government of Afghanistan in pursuit of our common objective of a peaceful, democratic, stable and prosperous Afghanistan,” she added.
Taking on the issue of terrorism, Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “We also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual interest. The situation in our neighbourhood and the growing menace of cross-border terrorism were discussed in depth. There is growing convergence in the approaches of both our countries on this issue. We both recognize the importance of holding those who use terrorism as an instrument of state policy to account and to dismantle the infrastructure that supports terrorism.”
Minister Sitharaman also underlined India's strong relations with the US. She said the two countries "share a strong and vibrant strategic partnership as the world's largest democracies". "We also share fundamental values and interests," she said.
Asserting the deep military relations with the United States, Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Our military-to-military engagement continues to grow. We recently concluded the trilateral Malabar Naval Exercise in the Bay of Bengal along with Japan. This edition of Malabar demonstrated the progress made in operational synergies between our Navies. As we speak, our Armies are conducting their Exercise Yudh Abhyas. In our talks today, we agreed to explore additional, specialized exercises.”
Meanwhile, US Defence secretary James Mattis said, “There can be no tolerance of terrorist safe havens. As global leaders, India and the U.S. resolve to work together to eradicate this scourge.” “With increasing Chinese presence in the region, both sides put great emphasis in expanding their expanding maritime cooperation,” he added.
US Defence secretary James Mattis is on a two-day visit to India during which he will meet National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and PM Modi. After arriving in India, Secretary James Mattis paid homage and laying a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti, India Gate, New Delhi and inspected Tri-Services Guard of Honour at South Block lawns.