WASHINGTON - Stronger military ties between India and the United States should not affect relations with neighbours such as Pakistan, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said ahead of a visit to New Delhi.
The Pentagon chief arrived Monday for a 48-hour trip - the first to India by any member of President Donald Trump's cabinet.
"This is a historic opportunity for our two democracies at a time of strategic convergence," Mattis told reporters on his flight. He is to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his new defence minister in New Delhi.
The trip comes weeks after Trump unveiled a new Afghanistan strategy and urged India to increase assistance to the war-torn nation's economy.
When asked how he would balance the India-Pakistan dynamic, Mattis stressed that the relationship the United States is pursuing with India is "not to the exclusion of other countries".
"Any nation that is living by the traditional rules of non-interference in other states in today's age of anti-terrorism, they will not find this relationship in any way adversarial," he said.
India has long vied with Pakistan for influence in Afghanistan, building dams, roads and a new parliament in the troubled country. Last year it offered some $1 billion in aid.
Trump's new Afghan strategy includes the deployment of more than 3,000 additional US troops.