India and the US today discussed ways to deepen their defence ties along with key issues such as Afghanistan, where New Delhi has ruled out any troop contribution, and terrorism emanating from Pakistan. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her US counterpart James Mattis held comprehensive talks covering the entire gamut of the bilateral defence partnership.
“The situation in our neighbourhood and the growing menace of cross-border terrorism were discussed in depth. There is growing convergence in the approaches of both our countries on this issue,” Sitharaman said at a joint press conference.
She said both sides recognise the importance of holding those who use terrorism as an instrument of state policy to account and to dismantle the infrastructure that supports terrorism.
On his part, Mattis said there can be “no tolerance to terrorism safe havens”. He also welcomed India’s contribution in war-torn Afghanistan.
India, one of the largest contributors in Afghanistan where it in involved in several development projects, however, has ruled out troops contribution amidst the US emphasis for a greater participation by the country in the conflict-ridden Islamic nation.
“We have made it clear that there shall not be boots from India on the ground (Afghan),” Sitharaman said while responding to a query on whether India will contribute troops in Afghanistan.
Sitharaman also said that Mattis has assured her that he will raise with Pakistan the issue of terrorism emanating from there.