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Mattis to discuss joint Indo-US efforts to advance common goals of the two countries through broader strategic exchange of views

The US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in New Delhi, on Tuesday morning, for a two day visit to India. Secretary Mattis was received by his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman and is now scheduled to have discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other high ranking Indian officials, including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, through the day. A joint press statement is also expected by Mattis and Sitharaman later on Tuesday.

Mattis is the first Cabinet Minister of the Trump Administration to visit India.

Talking to media persons in Washington on Monday before he left for New Delhi, Mattis said India and the US have a “historic opportunity” to set a refreshed partnership built on shared values of democracy, freedom of expression and human dignity.

Mattis asserted that for the US, India is a pillar of regional stability and security. He praised New Delhi for supporting the fight against terrorists in Afghanistan.

The US Secretary of State explained that during his visit he will discuss the joint efforts to advance common goals through a broader strategic exchange of views. He said the goal of his trip was to promote pragmatic progress between the two countries’ defence partnership, delivering defence inter operability aligned with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump’s direction as security is one of the key strategic pillars.

Sources in the Indian establishment said Mattis’ visit would be used to develop new institutional mechanisms to elevate the status of India-US defence relationship, showcase enhanced strategic co-operation in Afghanistan – in line with US president Trump’s recent announcements regarding his administration’s new policy on Afghanistan – and strengthen maritime security and rule of law in the Indo-Pacific region.

India and the US are also expected to announce a bilateral maritime exercise between the navies of both nations. This exercise, say sources, will be focused on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR). Discussions on American offer for the F-16 fighter and Guardian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) are also expected to take place during the visit.

— With agency inputs

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