United States Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday called on all “responsible nations” to support efforts by the United Nations, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani to ensure peace in Afghanistan and the rest of South Asia. Mattis was speaking to reporters at an event welcoming Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to the Pentagon.

“Forty years is enough,” Mattis said, when asked about the US decision to seek Pakistan’s help with peace talks in Afghanistan. “It is time for everyone to get on board, support the United Nations, support Prime Minister Modi, support President Ghani and all those who are trying to maintain peace and make for a better world here.”

Prior to the event, Mattis told reporters that Indian and US officials would discuss sanctions on countries trading with Iran and Russia. Ties between New Delhi and Washington have strained in recent times following India’s defence purchases from Russia and its decision to continue importing oil from Iran. New Delhi and Moscow signed a deal for S-400 air defence missile systems in October despite a warning by the US that it would impose sanctions if the agreement went through.

The US defence secretary said India has spent many years “in its non-aligned status” and bought many weapons from Russia. “We [US] have a growing strategic confluence of interests with our country and theirs, the two largest democracies in the world,” Mattis added. “And we are here today to talk about all the issues that bring us closer together, and we will sort out all those issues here today, and in the days ahead.

Mattis described the US and India as natural partners and reiterated Washington’s appreciation of New Delhi’s role as a “stabilising force in promoting peace and security across the region and the globe”.

India and the US conducted the first “2+2 dialogue” in New Delhi on September 6. At the meeting, Mattis and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed with their counterparts Nirmala Sitharaman and Sushma Swaraj ways to strengthen strategic, security and defence cooperation.