Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States is willing to provide advanced technologies to help India modernise its military, saying that the U.S. “supports India’s emergence as a leading power.”
Speaking at a press conference in New Delhi after meeting with Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday, October 25, Tillerson said that India and the U.S. were “natural allies” and will stand together in the fight against terrorism.
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) October 25, 2017
“The United States supports India’s emergence as a leading power and will continue to contribute to Indian capabilities to provide security throughout the region,” Tillerson said. “In this regard, we are willing and able to provide India advanced technologies for it’s military modernisation efforts. This includes ambitious offers from American industry for F-16 and F-18 fighter planes.”
Tillerson’s remarks referencing technology transfers come as U.S. firms Lockheed Martin, which makes the F-16, and Boeing, which builds the F/A-18, have offered to produce aircraft in India but without sharing proprietary technology.
The fight against terrorism
Tillerson also spoke about the fight against terrorism, saying the U.S. “will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with India.”
“Terrorist safe havens will not be tolerated,” he added, echoing CIA Director Mike Pompeo who said last week that India’s local rival Pakistan must deny the Taliban a safe haven on it soil.
Swaraj said that regional stability was reliant on Pakistan eradicating safe havens. “Pakistan should dismantle the terror infrastructure. We believe that President Trump’s new policy can succeed only if Pakistan effectively acts against all terror organisations without any discrimination,” she said.
“The US and India agree that Pakistan must work to immediately get rid of terror safe havens operating there,” she added.
Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan have suffered in recent years. Washington has repeatedly accused the Pakistani government of ignoring Taliban and Haqqani network activity, and even of aiding the militants. President Donald Trump has vowed to get tough, and U.S. officials have threatened aid cuts and targeted sanctions.
Earlier Wednesday, Tillerson said the U.S. is concerned that extremists were using Pakistan as a safe haven to launch attacks on other countries.
“There are too many terror organisations that find a safe haven in Pakistan,” Tillerson said. “We have explained to them certain expectations we have from Pakistan in dealing with these organisations.”
“Quite frankly my view – and I expressed this to the leadership of Pakistan – is we also are concerned about the stability and security of Pakistan’s government as well.”
Tillerson met with Pakistan’s prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Islamabad on Tuesday, ahead of his trip to India.
“We are committed in the war against terror,” Abbasi said during the meeting. “We have produced results. And we are looking forward to moving ahead with the U.S. and building a tremendous relationship.”
Tillerson told the Pakistani delegation that the country is “important regionally to our joint goals of providing peace and security to the region.”
Tillerson also spoke about U.S. policy towards Afghanistan, saying that India has an important role to play in its implementation.
“In August, President Trump announced a new strategy for south Asia, one that redoubles our commitment to Afghanistan, and with it, to peace and stability in the greater south Asian region,” Tillerson said. “India plays an important role in this effort.”
Swaraj said the two had “discussed implementing President Trump’s new Afghanistan and South Asia policy, so that it can achieve the desired results.”
“We expressed serious concerns over increasing terror attacks in Afghanistan. It proves even today there are elements that are providing safe havens and support to terrorists. We agreed that we need to together ensure that no country provides safe havens to terrorists,” she said, again obliquely referencing Pakistan.
Swaraj said that a third round of U.S.-India-Afghanistan trilateral talks would take place in India in December.