US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday night from Pakistan and will hold talks with the Indian leadership on Wednesday to discuss further strengthening of Indo-US strategic partnership in key areas, and collaboration on security in the Indo-Pacific region.
Tillerson, who is the second high-ranking official of the Trump Administration to visit India in the last two months, will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hold talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
US Defence Secretary James Mattis visited India last month.
Ahead of Tillerson’s three-day visit, the external affairs ministry had said that there will be detailed discussions on further strengthening of Indo-US partnership.
Strengthening cooperation in strategic areas of defence, counter terrorism, security, energy and trade are expected to figure during the meeting between Swaraj and Tillerson.
Tillerson will meet with senior Indian leaders to “discuss further strengthening of our strategic partnership and collaboration on security and prosperity” in the Indo-Pacific region, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert had said in Washington last week.
The US Secretary of State, who paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Monday, said the Trump administration was of the view that India can play a positive role in creating a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
He also asserted that America’s relationship with India is of strategic importance which is not limited to South Asia.
In a major India-policy speech, Tillerson said last week that the US is India’s “reliable partner” at the world stage in this period of uncertainty and angst.
He also referred to the rise of China, saying its behaviour and action were “posing a challenge to the rules-based international order”.
“China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly, at times undermining the international, rules-based order—even as countries like India operate within a framework that protects other nations’ sovereignty,” he had told a Washington audience ahead of his maiden visit in New Delhi.
“China’s provocative actions in the South China Sea directly challenge the international law and norms that the US and India both stand for,” he had said.
The two sides will discuss key bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.
Tillerson’s visit also comes at a time when the Trump Administration is “considering” India’s request for armed drones for its air force.
Earlier this year, the IAF had requested the US government for General Atomics Predator C Avenger aircraft. It is understood that the IAF would need 80 to 100 units making it approximately a whopping USD 8 billion deal.