NEW DELHI, Apr. 18: The United States and India reaffirmed a strategic partnership that involves not only a growing defence relationship but also shared perspectives of the region.
Rounding off his first regional visit, US NSA, HR McMaster held talks with prime minister of India Narendra Modi, NSA, Ajit Doval and foreign secretary S Jaishankar. According to the PMO, the two sides "exchanged views on how both countries can work together to effectively address the challenge of terrorism and to advance regional peace, security and stability."
A statement by the US embassy said the US reaffirmed India's status as "major defence partner". "The two sides discussed a range of bilateral and regional issues, including their shared interest in increasing defense and counterterrorism cooperation. The visit was a part of regional consultations that included stops in Kabul and Islamabad."
PM Modi is expected to travel to Washington DC for his first summit with Donald Trump this summer, though dates were not revealed. It is believed McMaster's discussions included talks on the visit, though there was no official confirmation.
Official sources said the discussions with the Indian leadership covered situation in Afghanistan, West Asia and DPRK. McMaster has separately been quoted as saying that the North Korean issue was "coming to a head".
On the issue of Afghanistan, Indian sources said there appeared to be a continuation of US policy, based primarily on counter-terrorism and supporting building up of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). "We both want the same outcomes in Afghanistan. The difference is in our resources and approach," said high level sources.
Doval, Jaishankar and several key officials were present in the meeting that took place at the Prime Minister's residence. The talks started on Monday evening, continuing through dinner hosted by Doval, for well over three hours. They continued on Tuesday morning as well. The discussions according to sources covered bi-lateral relations, including the defence relationship as well as regional perspectives.
The US NSA arrived in Delhi on Monday evening from Pakistan, where he met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and some top officials. In Islamabad, the relations between India and Pakistan figured in McMaster's discussions with Sharif. A US embassy readout of the meeting said "McMaster expressed appreciation for Pakistan's democratic and economic development, and stressed the need to confront terrorism in all its forms."
McMaster's visit to Kabul was preceded by the US using its biggest non-nuclear bomb on an IS/Daesh complex in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan.(TOI)
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