The US said on Wednesday that it will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with India in the fight against terrorism and those terror safe havens will not be tolerated.
US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, in his remarks at a joint media interaction with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, also said the US supports India’s emergence as a leading power and was willing to provide New Delhi with advanced technologies for its military modernisation.
He said the two countries will cooperate further in the Indo-Pacific region to promote rules-based commerce, in remarks apparently targetted at China over its growing belligerence in the South China Sea.
Tillerson said that President Donald Trump announced a new strategy for South Asia in August which redoubles the US’ commitment to Afghanistan and with it peace and stability in the greater South Asian region.
“India plays an important role in this effort. In the fight against terrorism, the United States will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with India. Terror safe havens will not be tolerated,” he said. The US’ top official said he will continue to contribute to Indian capabilities to provide security throughout the region.
“In this regard, we are willing and able to provide India advanced technologies for its military modernisation efforts. This includes ambitious offers from the American industry for F-16 and F-18 fighter planes.”
Tillerson also referred to the visit last month of US Secretary of Defence James Mattis. “He and I look forward to the inaugural Two-plus-Two dialogue early next year,” he said.
“We look forward to further cooperation in the broader Indo-Pacific region as we both promote a rules-based approach to commerce and a transparent and sustainable approach to economic development. We are glad to be joined in this effort by our close mutual partner Japan,” he said. Navies of the three countries participate in the annual Malabar exercise in the Indian Ocean region, which is watched with suspicion by China.
The US Secretary of State, who was in Afghanistan on Monday on an unannounced visit, also said the US acknowledges with gratitude India’s “generous contributions” to the development of Afghanistan, including construction of the Afghan Parliament building.
Tillerson said in addition to mutual partnership for regional and global stability, India and the US continue to benefit from strong economic bonds.
He said the two countries have had close relations for more than 70 years. “We are natural allies in the words of Prime Minister Modi. We are grateful for his friendship and his vision of a close India-US relationship and a vision we certainly share,” he said.