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New Delhi: India and the United States on Tuesday agreed to dismantle infrastructure that supports terrorism and recognized the importance of holding those who use terrorism as an instrument of state policy to account.

“We both recognize the importance of holding those who use terrorism as an instrument of state policy to account and to dismantle the infrastructure that supports terrorism,” said Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a joint press statement with US Defense Secretary Lt. Gen. (Retired) James Mattis.

She said the both sides discussed in depth the situation in India’s neighborhood and the growing menace of cross-border terrorism.

Emphasising that cooperation in defence equipment has grown steadily over the past years between the two nations, Sitharaman said that the U.S. is now a leading supplier of state of the art defence equipment to India.

She also appreciated Secretary Mattis’ willingness to share further cutting-edge platforms, which would enhance India’s defence preparedness to meet current and emerging threats.

“Secretary Mattis and I agreed that we need to expand on the progress already made by encouraging co-production and co-development efforts. I reiterated India’s deep interest in enhancing defense manufacturing in India under Prime Minister’s Make India initiative. I thank Secretary Mattis for his supportive position in this regard and look forward to closely working with him to realize joint projects,” she said.

The minister also exchanged views with Mattis on how India could strengthen its cooperation bilaterally as well as with Afghan Government in pursuit of common objective of a peace democratic, stability and prosperous Afghanistan.

Sitharaman further said that the issues relating to maritime security in the Indian Ocean and broader Asia-Pacific Region as well as regional connectivity issues were also discussed during the talks.

“India supports freedom of navigation, over-flight and unimpeded lawful commerce. We also believe, that disputes should be resolved through peaceful means and in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law,” she said.

“I welcome his reiteration of the U.S. commitment to work with India in ensuring maritime security in the Indo Pacific and as first responder to HADR situations,” she added.

The minister said that the two sides also discussed ways to refocus and re-energize the defence technology and trade initiative (DTTI) as a mechanism to promote technology sharing as well as co-development and co-production efforts.

She also ruled out any possibility of the country sending its troops to Afghanistan.

“There shall not be any boots on the ground from India,” Sitharaman said in response to a question in reference to Afghanistan.

She, however, reiterated that India will continue providing development and medical assistance to Kabul.

In making this point, Sitharaman cleared the air on previous speculative reports that India was thinking of deploying troops in Afghanistan after U.S. President Donald Trump called for greater Indian involvement in that war torn country.

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