India Won't Deploy Troops in Afghanistan

Afghanistan likely on agenda as US defense starts visit to India

Putting to rest speculation about sending troops to Afghanistan, India on Tuesday categorically said it will continue to work for the country's development and provide medical assistance but there will not be any "Indian boots on the ground" there.

Later, the two addressed a joint media conference where Mattis said the focus was on enhancing the defence relations between the two countries, with the United States viewing India as a regional stabilizer.

US has offered to assemble F-16 and F-18A in India under the "Make in India" programme and has offered Guardian unmanned drones to be used by the Indian Navy after the PM Modi and US President Trump held talks in June. The talks focused on deals that involve the transfer of technology, with New Delhi pressing Washington to share technology and wanting to manufacture its own fighter jets.

The secretary will also express U.S' appreciation for India's important contributions toward Afghanistan's democracy, stability, prosperity, and security.

The Minister added that Afghanistan is already shattered due to war crisis, and India will extend all possible help to support rehabilitation there. Cooperation in defence equipment grew steadily over past years and the U.S. is now a leading state-of-the-art defence equipment supplier to India, Sitharaman said. In all likelihood, India will also be training Afghan police force members.

But Ms Sitharaman minced no words as she added: "The very same forces which did find safe haven in Pakistan were the forces that hit NY as well as Mumbai". I am confident that his knowledge and experience will contribute to further deepening defence and security cooperation between India and the United States.

"The U.S. has time and again persuaded India in this regard".

The US president also chided Delhi's arch-rival Pakistan for offering safe haven to "agents of chaos". He also welcomed India's contribution in war-torn Afghanistan.

The two sides issued the joint statement following a meeting between Mattis, who is the first high-ranking official from the Donald Trump administration to have arrived in India, with Sitharaman here.

"We look forward to sharing some of our most advanced defence technologies", Mattis said.

Mattis is expected to come bearing the news of several key defence deals for India, and go back with a better understanding of the situation in South Asia when it comes to terrorism.

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