United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday said that India was the "emerging leader in the region" during his maiden visit to the country. Tillerson made the statement while holding a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi.

Tillerson also said that India is crucial to the US' Afghanistan strategy. "India is a natural partner in our fight against terrorism," he said.

The top leaders discussed a wide range of topics during their meeting, ranging from US-India relations to Pakistan harbouring terrorist organisations on its soil.

Rex Tillerson Sushma Swaraj
Rex Tillerson with Sushma SwarajTwitter/ Raveesh Kumar

Swaraj said that she was privileged to meet Tillerson for the second time in a month, after their meeting at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) summit in New York.

"India-US relations have deepened after Narendra Modi's United States visit," Swaraj added. The minister also said that Tillerson recognised India's role in the development of the region, and announced that India, US and Afghanistan will hold a trilateral meet in December.

Swaraj also attacked Pakistan for harbouring terrorists and said, "Recent attacks in Afghanistan are proof that safe havens and supporters of terrorism are active. Pakistan needs to act on this."

The minister added that US President Donald Trump's policies on terrorism will only prove fruitful if Pakistan takes concrete actions against terror outfits in the country.

Tillerson also made a statement on Pakistan and said, "In my discussions in Islamabad, we were frank to conclude that there are too many terrorist outfits that find a safe haven in Pakistan. We are putting in place a mechanism to deny these outfits the ability to launch attacks on other countries."

"We want to work with Pakistan in a positive way as we think this is in their interest in the long run," Tillerson added.

Swaraj, during the press conference, was also asked about India's ties with North Korea, to which the minister responded with saying that New Delhi's trade relations with Pyongyang are at a minimum and that it is crucial to continue to have an embassy in the country.

"I told Tillerson that some of your friendly nations must have an embassy there in North Korea for any possible communication," she said.