During a crucial meeting between Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her American counterpart James Mattis, the former clarified that no Indian troops will be deployed in Afghanistan. She however assured the visiting dignitary that India would continue to help Afghanistan through infra projects like building dams, schools and providing medical assistance and training to its people.
“These will continue. These engagements will continue,” Sitharaman told Mattis, but “there shall be no boots on the ground in Afghanistan”. Sitharaman also raised the issue of US military aid to Pakistan in her talks with Mattis. She said there was a growing convergence between India and the US over the issue of terrorism in the region and condemnation of those who use terror as an instrument of state policy.
Sitharaman underlined India’s strong relations with the US. She said the two countries “share a strong and vibrant strategic partnership as the world’s largest democracies”. “We also share fundamental values and interests,” she said.Mattis said the US values India’s “invaluable contribution to Afghanistan” and welcomes further efforts to promote democracy, safety and security there. Both New Delhi and Washington have shared concerns about Afghanistan. Trump has also cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops in the war-torn country. Washington has urged India to increase its stake in Afghanistan. India has, however, ruled out deploying troops in Afghanistan.
Nonetheless, training of the Afghan National Army and supply of more hardware and weapons platforms to the Afghan security forces by India cannot be ruled out.