No Indian troops to be deployed in Afghanistan: Defence Minister Sitharaman

Wednesday, 27 Sep, 2017

India had welcomed President Trump's new US Strategy for Afghanistan announced last month.

Mattis' India visit comes in less than a week after external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had her first bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in NY on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.

The two defense ministers also discussed defense deals with India, one of the world's biggest defense equipment buyers.

"We value India's invaluable contribution to Afghanistan and welcome further efforts to promote Afghanistan's democracy, safety and security", she added.

While Mattis sought India's greater involvement in helping to stabilise Afghanistan, both countries vowed to jointly stamp out terror sanctuaries in the region.

Putting to rest speculation about sending troops to Afghanistan, India on Tuesday categorically said it will continue to work for the country's development and provide medical assistance but there will not be any "Indian boots on the ground" there.

"We also discussed ways to further deepen the robust defence trade and technology collaboration between our defence industries".

Mattis said the USA valued India's leadership across the Indo-Pacific. "There is a challenge to keep your waters free for legitimate navigation, trade and energy transport and again, India have a convergence of connectivity, various theatres particularly like Afghanistan", Sarna said.

Sale of F-16 and F18A fighter jets to India will be high on the defence secretary's agenda which the Trump administration is keen to sell in a deal worth Dollars 15 billion.

US Defence Secretary held delegation level talks with the Union defence minister.

In his maiden visit to India and the first of any official from the cabinet of Trump, James Mattis landed on Monday and first offered his homage to the Amar Jawan Jyoti in India gate. He also chided Pakistan for offering safe haven to "agents of chaos".

"India, from our perspective, is clearly a pillar of regional stability and security", he added.

India was of the view that disputes should be resolved through peaceful means and in accordance with the universally recognized principles of global law.

Sitharaman highlighted that India has been making contributions to Afghanistan for a long time, by means of developmental activities like building dams, schools, hospitals, roads and institutions. India's agenda is to build capacity of Afghan security forces, enabling them to fight their own battles more effectively.