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India and the United States have agreed to expand bilateral defense technology cooperation during US Defense Secretary James Mattis' official visit to New Delhi, Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Tuesday in a statement.

"This is, again, a historic opportunity for our two democracies, a time of strategic convergence", Mattis said alongside his Indian counterpart, Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

"I want to applaud India's invaluable contributions, significant contributions, to promote Afghanistan's democracy, stability and security in the fight against terrorism", said Mattis.

Earlier in the day, Mr Mattis and Ms Sitharaman held talks in South Block on enhancing the defence relations between the two countries.

Defence ties between India and the United States have expanded rapidly, with New Delhi buying US weapons worth $15 billion over the last decade, moving away from traditional supplier Russian Federation.

Mattis will be engaging with his Indian interlocutors on how to synergize USA and Indian efforts in stabilizing Afghanistan.

India has already extended $3-billion aid to Afghanistan and has a progressing bilateral trade with it. India could also be seen as an intermediary between Iran and Russian Federation - with whom U.S. has hostile relations - over influencing developments in Afghanistan.

"India started to provide training to Afghan police officers and army cadets to build its internal security". The visit is part of the U.S. - India Defense cooperation.

AFP reported that according to India it needs at least 100 single-engine fighters to counter the growing air threat posed by China and Pakistan.

As regards Pakistan, she said India and U.S. appreciated the importance of making accountable those who use terrorism as a state policy and stressed the need for dismantling the terrorist infrastructure.

The US Secretary of States said, during his visit he will discuss the joint efforts to advance common goals through a broader strategic exchange of views.

Mattis said the talks covered ways to further enhance defense trade and technology collaboration between defense industries.

"We both recognize the importance of holding those who use terrorism as an instrument of state policy to account and to dismantle the infrastructure that supports terrorism, " she said.

The U.S. sees India as a counterweight to the rising influence of China, and hopes to persuade New Delhi to become more involved in bringing stability to Afghanistan.

Mattis said there can be "no tolerance to terrorism safe havens".

Trump has praised India for contributing to regional peace and stability and for buying USA military equipment.


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