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India, US hit out at ‘terror safe haven’ Pakistan in joint statement

New Delhi: In a major boost to India, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Tuesday said that the administration of President Donald Trump will no longer tolerate terror safe havens anywhere in the world.

There can be no tolerance of terror safe havens, as global leaders, India and US have resolved to work together to eradicate this scourge, Mattis said without naming Pakistan during his talks with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Calling terrorism a common problem affecting the two countries, Mattis said, ”Our two countries recognise the threat that global terrorism poses to people throughout the world.”

A joint statement issued after their meeting called on the need for India and the United States to come together to combat the scourge of terrorism.

We appreciate India’s leadership in the Indian Ocean region and seek to work together to build a resilient regional architecture, Mattis said.

Referring to the situation in the war-torned Afghanistan, the US Defence Secretary said, ”We value India’s invaluable contribution to Afghanistan and welcome further efforts to promote democracy, safety and security in the war-ravaged Asian state.”

I congratulate India for the great work done in Afghanistan, Defence Secretary James Mattis said.

Responding to it, Sitharaman said, ”India will expand development activities to help stabilise the war-torn country, but there shall not be any (Indian) boots on the ground in Afghanistan.”

Speaking to reporters, the Defence Minister said, ”India-US share strong and vibrant strategic partnership as world’s largest democracies also share fundamental values and interests.”

Cooperation in defence equipment grew steadily over past years. the US is now a leading state-of-the art defence equipment supplier to India, the Defence Minister said.

Acknowledging the US’ stand on terror, Nirmala Sitharaman said, ”Both countries recognise the importance of holding those who use terror as state policy to account and to dismantle infrastructure  that supports terror.”

The two sides issued the joint statement following a meeting between Mattis, who is the first high-ranking official from the Donald Trump administration to have arrived in India, with Sitharaman here.

Jim Mattis will later meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and NSA Ajit Doval, and hold talks to explore ways to boost the bilateral strategic ties.

“This is a historic opportunity for our two democracies at a time of strategic convergence,” Mattis had said upon his arrival here on Monday.

Jim Mattis is on a two-day official visit to India during which the spotlight will remain on combating the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and multi-billion dollar defence deals with India, including the remotely-controlled ‘unarmed’ Guardian drones for the Indian Navy.

The trip comes weeks after Trump unveiled a new Afghanistan strategy and urged India to increase assistance to the war-torn nation’s economy. He also chided Pakistan for offering safe haven to “agents of chaos”.

India, he said, has been a constant supporter of the fight against terrorists in Afghanistan.

“India, from our perspective, is clearly a pillar of regional stability and security. We share a common vision for a peaceful and prosperous vision in the Indo-Pacific region, one that’s based on that strong, rules-based international order, and the peaceful resolution of disputes and territorial integrity,” he said.

Mattis earlier laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate and inspected tri-service Guard of Honour at the South Block lawns.

He had earlier lauded India for contributing tens of thousands of dollars for building infrastructure in Afghanistan and training Afghan officers.

“They’ve been a great asset, and we would see them continuing along the lines they have already chosen, and looking for any other areas that they may believe appropriate to the relationship with Afghanistan,” he added.

“No nation has probably contributed more bilaterally than India in building that hope,” he said.

Responding to a question on Pakistan, Mattis said it has come out recently again saying that they are fighting the terrorists. “I think Pakistan will find nothing out of line with India and the US alignment in the same fight,” he said.

(With agency inputs)

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