US Secretary of defense Jim Mattis insisted that an open border trade between India and Pakistan would help in bringing regional stability. Photograph: (AFP)
US defence secretary James Mattis who recently visited India, praised India's role in Afghanistan before the House Armed Services Committee today.
"It is really a very holistic approach that India is taking. You'll notice I left off (Indian) boots (soldiers) on the ground because of the complexity that would bring to Pakistan," he told the US House Armed Services Committee.
On Wednesday, Mattis had warned Pakistan to address the problem of terrorism but if it failed then the "US president would be prepared to take whatever steps necessary".
"We're trying to make this an inclusive strategy and we don't want them to get a sense that they're vulnerable to any Indian Army people from their western flank, that's not necessary," Mattis told the Congressional panel.
The defense secretary told the committee that he would like to see India and Pakistan be open to trade as it would be "great economic advantage to both countries".
"I believe India wants that(trade) to happen, but it's very hard to do that if your concern is that you open the border to one thing, and you get something else," Mattis said in reference to cross-border infiltration.
"New Delhi has been generous over many years with Afghanistan. Because of its very generous funding over the years, India has achieved a degree of affection from the Afghan people as a result," he told the committee.
"India intends to continue this effort and broaden it. Furthermore, they are providing training for Afghan military officers and NCOs at their schools," he added.
On India-US joint military drills, the defense secretary said it is not an exclusive strategy.
"Any nation that wants to be part of the counter-terror effort and this stability effort in South Asia can sign-up," he asserted.