NEW DELHI — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi after stopping in neighboring Kabul and Islamabad as part of a South Asia trip to lay out the Trump administration’s new strategy for the region.
The agenda for talks in New Delhi Oct. 25 included an assertive China, the future of Afghanistan and India’s role in that war-ravaged country as well as strengthening the partnership between the world’s two largest democracies.
Tillerson and Swaraj also held a press conference late Oct. 25 afternoon. The U.S. official flew into New Delhi late Oct. 24 after visiting archrival Pakistan. He was in Afghanistan on a brief visit Oct. 23.
Press Trust of India adds that India and the United States Oct. 25 bluntly asked Pakistan to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure operating from its soil, asserting that terror havens inside that country would not be tolerated.
Swaraj and Tillerson said Islamabad needed to take concrete action against terror groups to ensure peace and security in the region, particularly in Afghanistan.
Tillerson said he had asked the Pakistani leadership to take action against terror groups and said an enhancement in their capabilities may pose a threat to the government in Islamabad.
"Terror havens will not be tolerated," Tillerson said at his joint press conference with Swaraj.
Swaraj, on her part, said Pakistan must dismantle the terror infrastructure, insisting that any country backing terror groups must be held accountable.
A host of issues, including ways to further boost defense and security cooperation and ramp up trade ties, were discussed by Swaraj and Tillerson.
The U.S. secretary of state also said the Trump administration was ready to share its best technology for India's military modernization, adding that it looked forward to discussing deals for F16 and F18 fighter jets with New Delhi.
He said India was crucial to the U.S.-Afghanistan strategy and his government was looking at strengthening cooperation with India in the Indo-Pacific region.
Swaraj said she raised the issue of H-1B visas with him and requested Tillerson to avoid action that might adversely affect Indians.
Tillerson was also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later Oct. 25 during his two-day trip.