India, US ask Pak to act on terror

India, US ask Pak to act on terror

Terming the inaugural 22 Dialogue between India and the United States on Thursday as an important step in the bilateral relationship, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that while the two sides have agreed to work together in various spheres, India expects a nondiscriminatory and predictable approach from the US on the H1B visa regime

New Delhi: India and the United States of America on Thursday urged Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries and bring to justice expeditiously the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot, Uri and other cross-border terrorist attacks.

In their joint statement issued at the end of the inaugural 2+2 Dialogue, India's Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis denounced any use of terrorist proxies in the region while calling on Pakistan to act on terror.

"On the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attack, they called on Pakistan to bring to justice expeditiously the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot, Uri and other cross-border terrorist attacks. The Ministers welcomed the launch of a bilateral dialogue on designation of terrorists in 2017, which is strengthening cooperation and action against terrorist groups, including Al-Qa'ida, ISIS, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, D-Company and their affiliates. The two sides further reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing and future cooperation to ensure a stable cyberspace environment and to prevent cyber-attacks," the joint statement said.

Recognising the two countries as strategic partners, major and independent stakeholders in world affairs, India and the US committed to work together on regional and global issues, including in bilateral, trilateral and quadrilateral formats. The two sides have decided to stay in touch through a dedicated hotline for communications between Foreign and Defence ministers of both sides.

Strengthening their defense and security partnership, the ministers reaffirmed the strategic importance of India's designation as a Major Defense Partner (MDP) of the US and committed to expand the scope of India's MDP status and take mutually agreed upon steps to strengthen defense ties further and promote better defense and security coordination and cooperation.

"They welcomed the inclusion of India by the US among the top tier of countries entitled to license-free exports, re-exports, and transfers under License Exception Strategic Trade Authorization (STA-1) and also committed to explore other means to support further expansion in two-way trade in defense items and defense manufacturing supply chain linkages. They welcomed the signing of a Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that will facilitate access to advanced defense systems and enable India to optimally utilize its existing U.S.-origin platforms. The Ministers also announced their readiness to begin negotiations on an Industrial Security Annex (ISA) that would support closer defense industry cooperation and collaboration," the statement read.

On the rapidly growing military-to-military ties, the two sides committed to the creation of a new, tri-services exercise and further increase personnel exchanges between the two militaries and defense organizations. They also committed to expand cooperation in the area of maritime security. The ministers committed to start exchanges between the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) and the Indian Navy, underscoring the importance of deepening their maritime cooperation in the western Indian Ocean.

Acknowledging the unique role of technology in the India-US defense partnership, the ministers reaffirmed their commitment to continue to encourage and prioritise co-production and co-development projects through the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), and to pursue other avenues of defense innovation cooperation. In this regard, they welcomed the conclusion of a Memorandum of Intent between the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and the Indian Defence Innovation Organization - Innovation for Defence Excellence (DIO-iDEX), the statement said.

On the expansion of bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation, the ministers announced their intent to increase information-sharing efforts on known or suspected terrorists and to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2396 on returning foreign terrorist fighters. They committed to enhance their ongoing cooperation in multilateral fora such as the UN and FATF and reaffirmed their support for a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) that will advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation and reinforce the message that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism.

The ministers also reviewed cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. Both sides committed to work together and in concert with other partners toward advancing a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, based on recognition of ASEAN centrality and on respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, rule of law, good governance, free and fair trade, and freedom of navigation and overflight. Noting the importance of infrastructure and connectivity for the Indo-Pacific region, both sides emphasised the need to work collectively with other partner countries to support transparent, responsible and sustainable debt financing practices in infrastructure development.

On the issue of Afghanistan, the joint statement said, "The Ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to a united, sovereign, democratic, inclusive, stable, prosperous, and peaceful Afghanistan. The two sides expressed support for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process. The US acknowledged India's longstanding and ongoing contributions of economic assistance to Afghanistan and also welcomed India's enhanced role in Afghanistan's development and stabilization."

India welcomed the recent US-North Korea summit and the two sides pledged to work together to counter North Korea's weapons of mass destruction programmes and to hold accountable those countries that have supported them.

The United States welcomed India's accession to the Australia Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Missile Technology Control Regime and reiterated its full support for India's immediate accession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

On the civil nuclear partnership, the statement said that both sides looked forward to full implementation of the civil nuclear energy partnership and collaboration between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Westinghouse Electric Company for the establishment of six nuclear power plants in India.

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