US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will embark on a crucial trip to India and Pakistan next week as part of his week-long five-nation tour that would also take him to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Switzerland. Tillerson will make Saudi Arabia his first stop on the week-long tour beginning tomorrow. He will take part in the inaugural Coordination Council meeting between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The Secretary will also meet with to Saudi leaders to discuss the conflict in Yemen, the ongoing Gulf crisis, Iran and a number of other important regional and bilateral issues, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said. Tillerson will then travel to Doha, where he will meet with Qatari leaders and US military officials to discuss joint counter-terrorism efforts, the ongoing Gulf dispute and other regional and bilateral issues, including Iran and Iraq, she said in a statement.
Nauert said Tillerson will then make his inaugural visit to South Asia as Secretary of State, reaffirming the Trump Administration’s comprehensive strategy toward the region. In Islamabad, he will meet with senior Pakistani leaders to discuss America’s continued strong bilateral cooperation, Pakistan’s critical role in the success of US President Donald Trump’s South Asia strategy and the expanding economic ties between the two countries, she said. The exact dates of his visits to Islamabad and New Delhi are yet to be announced. In New Delhi, Tillerson will meet with senior Indian leaders to “discuss further strengthening of our strategic partnership and collaboration on security and prosperity” in the Indo-Pacific region, Nauert said. “The Secretary’s visit to India will advance the ambitious agenda laid out by President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Prime Minister’s visit to the White House in June,” she said.
Tillerson, in the first major foreign policy speech on October 18, said the US is India’s “reliable partner” at the world stage in this period of uncertainty and angst, sending a strong signal to side with India amidst China’s “provocative actions” in the region. In the speech, he said the emerging Delhi-Washington strategic partnership stands upon a shared commitment upholding the rule of law, freedom of navigation, universal values and free trade. In Geneva, Tillerson will meet with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Organisation for Migration, and the International Committee of the Red Cross to discuss a number of the current global humanitarian crises.