MOSCOW - The US Department of Defense said Defence Secretary Mattis "will express US appreciation for India's important contributions toward Afghanistan's democracy, stability, prosperity, and security."
Trump recently announced a new Afghanistan strategy that involves sending thousands more US troops to the war-torn country. In the meantime, Trump urged India to increase its commitment to helping Afghanistan.
On the surface, India seems to be interested in preventing the spread of terrorism.
But Indian soldiers are not expected on Afghan soil; instead New Delhi's role remains limited to building roads, dams and other infrastructure.
"We want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development," Trump said in August.
India has already invested some $2 billion in Afghanistan and pledged to invest $1 billion more. An analysis by the Washington Post points out that Pakistan, India's perennial rival, lies inconveniently between the two countries.
The long-time rival of New Delhi has been criticized for providing safe havens for Afghan Taliban that operate in Afghanistan. Should India increase its commitment to Afghanistan, Islamabad may counter it by simply increasing its support for the Afghan Taliban , the Washington Post notes.
Why would they do that? Well, Islamabad views Afghanistan as a threat to its interests; with help from the US and India, Kabul is even more likely to lean toward these two countries, leaving Pakistan stranded between two adversaries.
Even if India decides to get involved in Afghanistan militarily, moving a considerable expeditionary force to the Central Asian state will require cooperation with Iran, the newspaper points out. And the US is not exactly on the best of terms with Iran right now. Besides, the Indian Army has rather limited experience when it comes to fighting abroad, the Washington Post notes.
With all the above, despite the optimistic tone with which US military news outlets describe Mattis's visit, major shifts in India's involvement in Afghanistan are not to be expected.