US Defence Secretary to visit India for talks over Trump's South Asia policy
NEW DELHI - US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is due to visit India and hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman to discuss the Afghanistan and South Asia policy, urging India to play a greater role in the war-torn country, announced President Trump.
“During his two-day visit the secretary will also express US’ appreciation for India’s important contributions toward Afghanistan’s stability, democracy, stability, and prosperity,” the Pentagon said.
Mattis’ visit to India comes after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a bilateral meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly meeting in New York.
During the meeting, the two leaders among other issues discussed Pakistan, Afghanistan, and terrorism. They also discussed the strategic relationship between Washington and New Delhi. Modi and President Donald Trump had announced a two plus two strategic and defence dialogue between the two countries at the White House in June after the India-US summit.
Diplomatic circles in New Delhi say that in this meeting, Jim Mattis will reaffirm that Washington considers New Delhi a valued and influential ally. This is the first cabinet-level official’s visit to India under the Trump administration. “The secretary will emphasise that the United States views India as a valued and influential partner, with broad mutual interests extending well beyond South Asia,” the Pentagon said in a statement Friday.