The global fight against terrorism and the situation in Afghanistan figured prominently when U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi here ahead of his summit-level meeting with President Donald Trump June 26.
“There was strong focus on terrorism and cooperation in counter-terrorism in the meeting with Tillerson,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said while briefing the media here.
“Given the challenges the two countries have faced, the discussions in the meeting touched upon how the two countries have cooperated in countering terrorism and where in the broad direction they can develop it further,” Baglay said.
He said that the entire world was looking at India-U.S. ties and this partnership had been described as a “defining partnership.”
The situation in the Indo-Pacific and Asia-Pacific regions was also discussed by Modi and Tillerson. According to Baglay, Modi said that the fulcrum of India’s foreign policy was to have good relations with all countries, especially with the neighbors.
Speaking of the prime minister’s desire of walking side by side with the U.S., the spokesperson said that Modi discussed the counter-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan in the meeting with Mattis.
In the meeting, it was mentioned that the U.S. and India believed in respect for international laws, a rule-based order and freedom of navigation and uninterrupted communication.
On being asked about the U.S. State Department’s notification June 26 that declared Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist, Baglay said that this was merely a courtesy meeting and not a detailed one where such issues could be discussed.
Defense and counter-terrorism issues are likely to be among the major topics to be discussed during the Modi-Trump meeting. The prime minister was scheduled to meet President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the White House. The leaders will address the media from the Rose Garden.
On June 25, in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, Modi said that defense was a mutually beneficial sphere of the Indo-U.S. partnership. “We are already working together to address the existing and emerging strategic and security challenges that affect both our nations – in Afghanistan, West Asia, the large maritime space of the Indo-Pacific, the new and unanticipated threats in cyberspace,” he said in the article.