NEW DELHI: Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday that she discussed the issue of terror safe havens in Pakistan with her US counterpart James Mattis and they both agreed such sanctuaries shouldn’t be tolerated.
Sitharaman also said she made India’s stance on Afghanistan clear to Mattis, by emphasising it won’t contribute troops to Afghanistan but will continue developmental assistance to the war-ravaged country.
State sanctuary to terror elements was however the big chunk of the conversation between Sitharaman and Mattis, who is the first Trump Cabinet member to visit India.
“I borrowed the defence secretary’s own (earlier) words when I explained to him that the very same forces that find safe haven in Pakistan have been the ones who’ve affected New York as well as other places,” said Sitharaman, after a meeting with the US defence secretary in New Delhi.
The defence minister further said she requested Mattis to raise the issue of cross-border terrorism and terror safe havens when and if he visits Pakistan.
The US defence secretary also commented on terrorism. “Our two countries recognise the threat that global terrorism poses to people throughout the world,” said Mattis, according to ANI news agency.
“India and US have suffered grievous losses to terrorism. We intend to work closely with India as we work to eradicate terrorism,” added Mattis.
Mattis’s India visit comes a little over two months after US President Donald Trump said that India must play a bigger role in Afghanistan’s path to peace. On Tuesday, Mattis acknowledged that India has already contributed significantly.
“We value India’s invaluable contribution to Afghanistan and welcome further efforts to promote Afghanistan’s democracy, safety and security,” said the US defence secretary.