U.S., India agree to jointly train peacekeepers in Africa

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and India agreed on Tuesday to train troops in six African countries before they are deployed to U.N. peacekeeping missions, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) participates with India's Minster of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (L) and U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker (R) at the U.S-India Strategic & Commercial Dialogue plenary session at the State Department in Washington September 22, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

He spoke after meetings with his Indian counterpart, Shushma Swaraj, on economic and security ties, which have been growing between their two countries given shared concerns about China’s rise in Asia.

“We agreed on a joint initiative to train troops in six African countries before they deploy to U.N. peacekeeping missions,” Kerry told reporters without specifying which African countries would be involved.

“This responds to a growing need for effective, professional, international peacekeeping in regions of conflict,” he said at the end of a two-day U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue.

He also cited progress on energy security and climate change. India is the world’s third-largest carbon emitter despite its low per-capital emissions, giving it a crucial role in U.N. climate talks in Paris in December.

The Paris summit will seek agreement on halting damaging greenhouse gas emissions.

“Both of our governments are firmly committed to reaching a truly meaningful, truly comprehensive, and truly ambitious climate agreement in Paris later this year,” Kerry said. “That is absolutely critical.”

He said the United States was launching a Fulbright climate fellowship program to help with the exchange of research information. Swaraj said India recognized that climate change is “one of the most pressing challenges of our times.”

Kerry also said U.S. President Barack Obama would meet Indian Prime Minister Modi next week in New York. Obama is due to address the U.N. General Assembly on Monday. Modi’s meeting with Obama will be his third in a year and reflects shared concerns about an increasingly assertive China as well as a desire to boost commercial ties.

Kerry, Swaraj and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will also would hold a first trilateral meeting at ministerial level during the U.N. session next week to “coordinate policies among our three great democracies,” Kerry said.

Growing closeness between Japan, the United States and India reflects shared security concerns about China, whose leader, President Xi Jinping, began a week-long visit to the United States on Tuesday.

This week, Modi is due to visit technology companies in Silicon Valley and also travel to New York.

Obama met Modi in Delhi in January. The two promised closer cooperation to maintain free navigation in the South China Sea and deeper defense ties.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton, Arshad Mohammed and David Brunnstrom; Editing by David Gregorio