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Bridging The Gap
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis arrives in India.
  Monday 25 September, 2017
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis arrives in India.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived here on Monday on a two-day official visit during which he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to discuss ways to boost strategic ties.

"This is a historic opportunity for our two democracies at a time of strategic convergence," Mattis told reporters on his flight.

The trip comes weeks after Trump unveiled a new Afghanistan strategy and urged India to increase assistance to the war-torn nation's economy. He also chided Pakistan for offering safe haven to "agents of chaos".

India, he said, has been a constant supporter of the fight against terrorists in Afghanistan.

"India, from our perspective, is clearly a pillar of regional stability and security. We share a common vision for a peaceful and prosperous vision in the Indo-Pacific region, one that's based on that strong, rules-based international order, and the peaceful resolution of disputes and territorial integrity," he said.

During his India visit, Mattis will lay a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate and inspect tri-service guard of honour at the South Block lawns.

He lauded India for contributing tens of thousands of dollars for building infrastructure in Afghanistan and training Afghan officers.

"They've been a great asset, and we would see them continuing along the lines they have already chosen, and looking for any other areas that they may believe appropriate to the relationship with Afghanistan," he added.

“No nation has probably contributed more bilaterally than India in building that hope," he said.

Responding to a question on Pakistan, Mattis said it has come out recently again saying that they are fighting the terrorists. "I think Pakistan will find nothing out of line with India and the US alignment in the same fight," he said.

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