Fighter jets, drones on table as Mattis visits key ally India

Mattis is scheduled to arrive late Monday and is set to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his new defence minister, in the first visit by a top US official since Donald Trump became president in January.

Fighter jets, drones on table as Mattis visits key ally India

World Bulletin / News Desk

Fighter jets, drone deals and shared concerns over Afghanistan's security look set to dominate the agenda when US Defense Secretary James Mattis visits India this week.

"The United States views India as a valued and influential partner, with broad mutual interests extending well beyond South Asia," a Pentagon statement said.

Trump and Modi met in June in Washington and the visit by Mattis is a sign "the political leadership in both countries place defence cooperation as a top priority", Mukesh Aghi, president of the US India Strategic Partnership Forum, told AFP.

Delhi and Washington share concerns about Afghanistan, with Trump announcing a new strategy for the war-torn country last month which cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops.

The president has urged India to increase assistance to Afghanistan's economy, and has lambasted Delhi's arch-rival Pakistan for offering safe haven to "agents of chaos".

Mattis "will express US appreciation for India's important contributions toward Afghanistan's democracy, stability, prosperity, and security", the Pentagon said.

Experts are not expecting any Indian boots on the ground, though there may be some role for Indian military expertise in supporting the US-led training and advisory mission with Afghan security forces.

India has long vied with Pakistan for influence in Afghanistan, building dams, roads and a new parliament in the troubled country. Last year it offered some $1 billion in aid.

Delhi frequently accuses Islamabad of stirring up violence in Afghanistan and harbouring militant groups.

Last Mod: 24 Eylül 2017, 12:38
Add Comment