27 September, 2017
"There shall not be boots from India on the ground in Afghanistan", Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a joint media conference with visiting US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis after talks with him.
"There shall not be any Indian boots on the ground in Afghanistan", Nirmala Sitharaman said at a joint press conference with her USA counterpart, ruling out troop contribution amid America's emphasis on greater participation by India in the war-torn nation".
Both New Delhi and Washington have shared concerns about Afghanistan.
"We maintain the capability to deter North Korea's most risky threats but also to back up our diplomats in a manner that keeps this as long as possible in the diplomatic realm", he said in response to a question.
"The relationship we are building with India is not to the exclusion of other countries", said Mattis. India's agenda is to build capacity of Afghan security forces, enabling them to fight their own battles more effectively.
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"For its part Pakistan often gives safe havens to agents of chaos, violence and terror", Trump said.
Describing her talks with Mr. Mattis as "very substantive, constructive and forward-looking, " she said that India and the US share a strong and vibrant strategic partnership.
Mattis' visit is meant to underscore the U.S. commitment to India as a strategic partner. But this time Mattis will head straight to Afghanistan after India. Sitharaman says she raised the issue directly with Mattis. Pakistan Prime Minister S.K. Abbasi's recent statement that India has "zero political and military role" in Afghanistan has little meaning when the Afghan government and its global supporters wants an intensified engagement by India.
A statement released by Mr Mattis after the meeting said, "There can be no tolerance of terrorist safe havens..." "I think Pakistan will find nothing out of line with India and the USA alignment in the same fight", he said.
In the backdrop of growing Chinese military footprint in Indian Ocean and its stance in South China Sea, India and U.S. stressed the need for further expanding their maritime co-operation and reiterated their support for "freedom of navigation, over-flight and unimpeded lawful commerce".
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).