New Delhi: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will land in India on Tuesday night for his first visit since he assumed office in the Trump administration. Regional security and upping trade, defence cooperation will be on the top of his agenda during his three-day visit, starting October 24.
Most of his meetings have been slotted on Wednesday. He is set to hold talks with his counterpart, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday morning. The meeting is likely to focus on counter-terrorism cooperation between India, the US and regional security.
The US is likely to once again call upon India to play a greater role in Afghanistan. In his address at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC on 18th October, Tillerson had said, “As we implement President Trump’s new South Asia strategy, we will turn to our partners to ensure greater stability in Afghanistan and nearby regions. India is a partner for peace in Afghanistan, and we welcome their assistance efforts.”
India has however clarified that it will not play a combat role in Afghanistan but continue with infrastructure building efforts and other forms of assistance.
While heading to New Delhi, Tillerson will make a pit-stop in Islamabad on Tuesday afternoon where he will once again stress that combating terrorism is an obligation not a choice for Pakistan. Last week at CSIS he had clearly spelt out that the US expected Pakistan to take “decisive action against terrorist groups based within their own borders”. He had underlined how this action against terrorism will further “stability and peace for itself and its neighbours” while improving its own international standing.
US President Donald Trump had recently praised Pakistan for its help in freeing an American-Canadian couple and their children from the Haqqani network’s captivity. He said it marked a “positive moment” in their relationship. Meanwhile, media reports in the US suggested that Pakistan was allowed to take credit even as it was given an ultimatum to deliver on the matter. In this context, Tillerson is expected to send out a message that Pakistan’s military and intelligence service cannot continue to provide cover to terrorists.