India has made it clear that it will not be sending troops to Afghanistan. India's new Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told her visiting US counterpart James Mattis in New Delhi on Tuesday (26 September) that Indian boots will not be on the ground in the war-torn Afghanistan but promised to provide assistance in other sectors. Already, apart from providing $3bn aid to Kabul, India is training the Afghan military.

India's decision comes after US President Donald Trump asked New Delhi to step up its assistance to Afghanistan in multiple sectors. India has a strong diplomatic presence in Afghanistan and maintains cordial relations with the country pumping money into infrastructure and other developmental projects.

"There shall not be any (Indian) boots on the ground in Afghanistan," Sitharaman told reporters in New Delhi after talks with Mattis. She was also speaking against the backdrop of the US sending 3,000 more troops to Afghanistan boosting its presence as Trump reshapes America's Afghan policy.

However, she added that both the US and India agree on a stronger push against terrorism and the menace posed by extremist groups in the region. "The situation in our neighbourhood and the growing menace of cross-border terrorism were discussed in depth. There is growing convergence in the approaches of both our countries on this issue," Sitharaman said at the joint press conference.

Mattis said: "There can be no tolerance of terrorist safe havens. As global leaders, India and the US resolve to work together to eradicate this scourge." Mattis is set to visit Afghanistan following his three-day India tour, while Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah is expected to land in New Delhi within days.

Afghan security forces
India has been involved in several infrastructure projects in Afghanistan Reuters file photo