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US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis to meet PM Modi next week in first India visit

"We value India's invaluable contribution to Afghanistan and welcome further efforts to promote Afghanistan's democracy, safety and security", she added.

Both parties emphasized the need to combat terrorism with Sitharaman urging Mattis to raise the issues of alleged safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan with Islamabad.

"We appreciate India's important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the USA, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development", Trump has said, underlining India's role in Afghanistan and the need to do much more. He will also be meeting with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in the capital.

In his remarks Tuesday, Mattis hinted at the South China Sea issue, saying India and the US both support an "open, just, and rules-based global order".

India already provides assistance in Afghanistan, and has spent billions of dollars in infrastructure, health and education sectors.

"We have made it very clear that there shall not be boots from India on the ground", Sitharaman said.

The U.S. Defense Secretary said on Tuesday that Washington will work with New Delhi to eradicate terrorist safe havens across the world.

We appreciate India's leadership in the Indian Ocean region and seek to work together to build a resilient regional architecture, Mattis said.

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Describing her talks with Mr. Mattis as "very substantive, constructive and forward-looking, " she said that India and the USA share a strong and vibrant strategic partnership.

The U.S. -India defense cooperation has steadily expanded in recent years, underpinned by common objectives and goals in the region, the secretary said, adding that such cooperation will benefit both economies while reducing any legacy or trust issues between the two democracies.

Many commentators have said US-India cooperation could act as a counterweight to an increasingly assertive China, which has been developing its military capabilities. He also welcomed India's contribution in war-torn Afghanistan.

Mattis is also likely to discuss furthering defence trade with India during his visit here.

The two "discussed regional issues, with a focus of Pakistan, Afghanistan and terrorism" and "reviewed all aspects all the bilateral relationship, including expanding our trade and investment relations".

Earlier in August 2017, US President Donald Trump unveiled his Afghanistan strategy, where he hit out at nations, inlcuding Pakistan, for sheltering terrorists. New Delhi has committed $3 billion in development projects in Afghanistan and trains Afghan officers in India.

Without naming Pakistan, Mr Mattis said there can be "no tolerance to terrorism safe havens".

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