Nirmala Sitharaman refuses to deploy Indian troops on Afghanistan soil

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharman on Tuesday emphasised that India will not deploy troops in war-torn Afghanistan, but will continue to expand its developmental activities there.

United States Defence Secretary Jim Mattis will visit India next week and hold talks with his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to underscore the enduring Washington's commitment to strategic and defence partnership with New Delhi.

Mattis's trip marks the first time the USA defense secretary visits South Asia since President Trump unveiled his Afghanistan war strategy last month.

Shamila Chaudhary, who worked on U.S. President Barack Obama's failed South Asia policy, criticized Trump's strategy as inherently contradictory, warning that it may prompt Pakistan to intensify its support to terrorist groups in response to India's involvement in Afghanistan.

The Defence Minister, however, added that India has contributed consistently to Afghanistan by building dams, schools and providing medical assistance and training to its people.

Sitharaman said, "The very same forces which did find safe haven in Pakistan were the forces that hit NY as well as Mumbai". The United States, India and Japan annually conduct naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal to improve coordination between their navies. India and U.S. have suffered grievous losses to terrorism.

Both sides are also expected to discuss and broader the scope of Defence Technology Trade Initiative (DTTI).

"We have a historic opportunity to set a refreshed partnership between our nations, and it's a partnership built on respect, trust, and the shared values of democracy, freedom of expression and human dignity", he said.

It's the first visit by a minister of Donald Trump Administration to India. New Delhi has committed $3 billion in development projects in Afghanistan and trains Afghan officers in India.

Earlier in the day, Mattis laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate and inspected tri-service guard of honour at the South Block lawns. She thanked Mattis for willingness to share further hi tech technology and weapon platforms to enhance India's capabilities to meet current and emerging threats.

Responding to a question on Pakistan, Mattis said it has come out recently again saying that they are fighting the terrorists.

The two "discussed regional issues, with a focus of Pakistan, Afghanistan and terrorism" and "reviewed all aspects all the bilateral relationship, including expanding our trade and investment relations".

  • Jon Douglas