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Rex Tillerson's visit to focus on Indo-Pacific, Pakistan

Afghan Prez Ghani says will restrict Pakistan's access to Central Asia if not allowed India trade route

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Narendra Modi, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani wave before their luncheon talks in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Photo: PTI)

Discussions between Rex Tillerson, who arrived in on Tuesday evening, and the Indian leadership are likely to see a congruence of views on the situation in South Asia and the need to strengthen security collaboration in the Indo-Pacific area. 

The two countries have also expressed similar concerns on China’s One Belt, One Road infrastructure initiative. is also expected to discuss with the Indian leadership cooperation in defence, counterterrorism, security, energy and trade. 

is the second high-ranking official of the administration to visit in last two months. US Defense Secretary James Mattis visited last month.

The is scheduled to call on Prime Minister and hold talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. He leaves on Thursday morning, the Ministry of External Affairs said.

had made a surprise visit to on Monday and spent four hours in on Tuesday. In Kabul, he met President Ashraf Ghani, who was in on Tuesday.

The Trump administration has been critical of for providing safe haven to terrorists. In Kabul, he said the Trump administration believed can play a positive role in creating a peaceful and stable The Trump administration wants New Delhi’s assistance in capacity building in

In a major policy speech, said last week the US was India’s “reliable partner” at the world stage in this period of uncertainty and angst. He had said China’s actions were “posing a challenge to the rules-based international order". He had also spoken of a 100-year strategic partnership with in the region, and had commented at the gains of the trilateral cooperation between the US, and Japan, with the need to include Australia as well.

In on Tuesday, Prime Minister and visiting President stressed, in a reference to Pakistan, on the need to close cross-border sanctuaries for terrorists. They also had a detailed one-on-one discussion, a restricted meeting and a working lunch, a statement by the external affairs ministry said.

“The efforts for early operationalisation of the Chabahar port, including the shipments of wheat in coming weeks to through the port, was considered as a step that would shape new trade and transit opportunities for landlocked Afghanistan," the statement said. The Indian side reiterated the readiness of its integrated check post at Attari to receive Afghan trucks carrying goods.

Later in an address at the Vivekananda International Foundation, Ghani said if was not given transit access to Wagah and Attari for trade with via Pakistan, Kabul would also restrict Islamabad’s access to Central Asia. He attacked for providing unfettered support to terror groups.

Ghani said the South Asia strategy announced by the Trump administration was a “game changer” as it recommended multi-dimensional condition-based approach for the region. 

“It (the strategy) singled out for engagement in this approach."

On defence cooperation, he said: “Our collaboration with is very open. We are delighted with the four helicopters (received from India). More Mi-35 helicopters are welcome."

First Published: Wed, October 25 2017. 03:02 IST