Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharman on Tuesday emphasised that India will not deploy troops in war-torn Afghanistan, but will continue to expand its developmental activities there. Sitharaman was responding to the United States Defence Secretary James Mattis who said Washington appreciated New Delhi’s contribution to promoting democracy, safety and security in Afghanistan.
“There will be no boots on the ground in Afghanistan,” Sitharaman said.
Mattis arrived in New Delhi late on Monday for a two-day visit to India, marking the first visit of an official from the President Donald Trump administration.
Mattis and Sitharaman said the two countries agreed there will be no tolerance for terror safe havens. “As global leaders, India and the US resolve to work together to eradicate this scourge,” Mattis said during delegation-level talks with Sitharaman. “Our two countries recognise the threat that global terrorism poses to people throughout the world.”
Sitharaman said Washington’s cooperation in defence equipment has grown steadily over the past few years and that the US is now a leading supplier to India. She said that during bilateral talks between the two leaders, the growing menace of cross-border terrorism initiated by Pakistan was also discussed.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mattis reviewed the Indian military honour guard in New Delhi. He then paid homage at the World War 1 Memorial at the India Gate. He also met the officials at the US Embassy in the national Capital.
Mattis lated held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, along with Sitharaman.