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No Indian troops in Afghanistan: Sitharaman
April 23 2018, 05:33 | Irvin Gilbert
Big Ticket US-India Defense Deals Unlikely While US Guards Tech Secrets AFP 2017 INDRANIL MUKHERJEE
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her United States counterpart Jim Mattis agreed that the full implementation of the understanding reached following the announcement by the USA previous year recognizing India as a Major Defence Partner will provide further energy and momentum to our collaboration on defence technology and manufacturing.
"We value India's invaluable contribution to Afghanistan and welcome further efforts to promote Afghanistan's democracy, safety and security", she added.
Mattis, who landed in New Delhi on Monday morning, is the first cabinet member from Trump administration to visit in India.
Mattis' visit is a first after US President Donald Trump announced the new Afghan policy, where he praised India's role, something which was not taken too kindly in Pakistan. The trip comes weeks after Trump unveiled a new Afghanistan strategy and urged India to increase assistance to the war-torn nation's economy.
India, from the USA perspective, is "clearly a pillar of regional stability and security", Mattis said.
Sitharaman said Washington's cooperation in defence equipment has grown steadily over the past few years and that the U.S. is now a leading supplier to India. India also recently agreed to expand its support for Afghan defense forces, which includes training of Afghan army personnel.
The Pentagon said in a statement Sunday: " The United States views India as a valued and influential partner, with broad mutual interests extending well beyond South Asia".
The two also discussed enhanced cooperation, regionally and globally, in pursuing shared priorities for peace, stability and combating terrorism, according to the PMO.
Mattis said the talks covered ways to further enhance defense trade and technology collaboration between defense industries. USA willingness to sell the Sea Guardian underlines the willingness of Washington to transfer some of its most sensitive military technology to New Delhi.
On his part, Mattis said there can be "no tolerance to terrorism safe havens".
"We look forward to sharing some of our most advanced defense technologies through the defense technology and trade initiative", he said, add that this would improve the capabilities of both militaries.
India's push for upgrading its defence is in light of the twin threats it faces from Pakistan and China.
In an apparent reference to China, which has disputes with its maritime neighbours in the South China sea, both India and the U.S. favoured maintaining an "open, just and rules-based order".