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'Won't tolerate it': US, India warn Pakistan on terror havens

US offers F-16 and F-18s; New Delhi resists US pressure to shut down Pyongyang embassy

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Rex Tillerson, Sushma Swaraj
Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a joint press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

The United States and India warned Islamabad on Wednesday that the presence of safe havens for terrorists on Pakistan territory “will not be tolerated”.

After his discussions with External Affairs Minister and National Security Advisor Ajit Kumar Doval, visiting US Secretary of State said he had asked Islamabad to take action against terror groups, which are now threatening the stability of the Pakistani government as well.

The US also offered to supply modern military technology, including F16 and F18 fighter jets, to India.  

In another development, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a bilateral meeting with US Defence Secretary James Mattis on the sidelines of a meeting of Asean defence ministers in Clark in the Philippines. Mattis had visited India last month.

Discussions between Tillerson and the Indian leadership covered a wide gamut of areas, including strengthening security collaboration in the Indo-Pacific, issue of H1B visas, North Korea and Iran. Tillerson and Swaraj said the inaugural “two plus two dialogue” between the US Secretary of State and Secretary of Defence and their Indian counterparts should take place early next year.

On the India-Iran trade links and their joint efforts to build the Chabahar port, Tillerson said it wasn’t the objective of the US to harm Iranians or interfere in business agreements between Iran and other countries. He, however, said the US would discuss with friendly countries areas of concern if these were to come up in relation with Iran’s missile or nuclear programmes or Tehran’s help to rebels in Syria and Yemen.

To a query on North Korea, Swaraj indicated there had been US pressure on New Delhi to close its embassy in Pyongyang and reduce trade with that country. Swaraj said she had a “frank discussion” with Tillerson on the issue. She said she told the US Secretary of State that India’s trade with North Korea was “minimal”. Swaraj said New Delhi has a “very small embassy” in Pyongyang and told Tillerson that some of the US’ friendly countries should have diplomatic presence in North Korea to keep communication channels open with the North Korean government as there could be eventualities where dialogues might be preferable.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, noted during his discussion with Tillerson the commonality in the objectives of India and the US to eradicate terrorism and bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.

In his discussions with Swaraj, Tillerson noted India's constructive role in rebuilding Afghanistan through development projects. He also said there were "certain expectations" placed before the Pakistani leadership in Islamabad during his discussions on Tuesday on dealing with terrorist organisations as well as their leaders.

Tillerson described India as an "important player" in the implementation of Trump administration's new strategy on South Asia. He said the US looked forward to further cooperation in the broader Indo-Pacific region as both India and the US promoted a rules-based and sustainable approach towards economic development. He said India and the US are joined by Japan in this endeavour. In his speech last week, Tillerson had suggested Australia be included in this trilateral effort of Japan, India and the US.

Tillerson said trade relations remain strong. He noted the opening of a Mahindra vehicle plant this month in Detroit.

First Published: Thu, October 26 2017. 08:50 IST