By Shuriah Niazi
The U.S. Defense Secretary said on Tuesday that Washington will work with New Delhi to eradicate terrorist safe havens across the world.
James Mattis said in a statement: “Terror safe havens will not be tolerated anywhere in the world. India and US have resolved to work together to eradicate this scourge.”
The statement by Mattis came after a press conference in capital New Delhi, following a meeting with his Indian counterpart during a two-day official visit to India.
“We value India's contribution to Afghanistan and welcome further efforts to promote democracy, safety and security in the war-ravaged Asian state,'' he added.
Last month, Donald Trump announced a new phase in the 16-year campaign in Afghanistan, which, while short on detail, pledged further U.S. military involvement against the Taliban.
Trump also criticized Pakistan for providing “safe havens for terrorist organizations” and called on Pakistan’s regional rival India to become further involved in Afghanistan.
India’s Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a statement: “India and the United States share a strong and vibrant strategic partnership. As the world's largest democracies, we also share fundamental values and interests.”
“India will expand development activities to help stabilize the war-torn country, but there shall not be any boots on the ground in Afghanistan," she added, ruling out India's military presence in Afghanistan.
Sitharaman said that defense cooperation between the two countries had grown steadily over the past few years.
“The U.S. is now a leading state-of-the-art defense equipment supplier to India,” she added.
Mattis is the first U.S. high-ranking official from the Donald Trump administration to visit India.
During the visit, he expressed hope that India should commit to purchase the Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 aircraft under the bilateral Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).