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Tillerson in India to Highlight US Strategy in South Asia

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) meets Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, at the Indian Foreign Ministry in New Delhi, India, Oct. 25.US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) meets Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, at the Indian Foreign Ministry in New Delhi, India, Oct. 25.

Combating terrorism and India’s role in war-torn Afghanistan dominated talks between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Indian counterpart Wednesday as Tillerson highlighted the US President Donald Trump administration’s new strategy for South Asia.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said that India had agreed to hold talks on Afghanistan with Washington and Kabul, AP reported.

Tillerson, who arrived in New Delhi after stops in Kabul and Islamabad, said he conveyed to Pakistan’s leaders “certain expectations” that the Trump administration had about controlling terror groups that operate from its soil. He added that too many terror groups had found a safe place in Pakistan to launch attacks.

On Tuesday, Tillerson held talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Foreign Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif and the heads of the army and intelligence services.

US officials have long accused Pakistan of turning a blind eye or assisting the Afghan Taliban and the allied Haqqani network. New Delhi has also long blamed its neighbor and archrival of supporting terror groups that have launched attacks inside India, including a three-day attack in India’s business capital, Mumbai, in 2008 that left 166 people dead after 10 gunman rampaged through parts of the city.

Trump’s new strategy for the region “can only be successful if Pakistan acts decisively against terror groups” that operate from its territory, Swaraj said in her comments to reporters in New Delhi.

Tillerson added that the presence of such groups on Pakistani soil was also a threat to “Pakistan’s own stability.”

Tillerson and Swaraj also stressed the close relationship and shared values between the US and India, the world’s two largest democracies. Both promised to work closely on matters of security and to enhance defense and economic cooperation.

Swaraj was also questioned about India’s relationship with North Korea, where India has an embassy and with which it does a small amount of trade. The United States is working to isolate North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

 

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