Published On: Wed, Aug 31st, 2016

US with India on terror issue: Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj prior to a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday.—AFP

US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj prior to a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday.—AFP

NEW DELHI: The United States and India on Tuesday reaffirmed their common view on cross-border terror albeit with varying emphasis and even a good word from US Secretary of State John Kerry for Islamabad’s efforts to curb the menace.

“The US stands with India on all matters of terrorism, no matter where it comes from,” Mr Kerry said at a joint news conference with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Ms Swaraj on her part ruled out any dialogue with Islamabad, saying “talks with Pakistan will happen only when it takes steps on the Pathankot terror attack” since “terror and talks cannot go hand-in-hand”.

Mr Kerry is in Delhi for the second strategic and commercial dialogue between India and the United States.

“I briefed Secretary Kerry on the continuing problem of cross-border terrorism that India and the larger region face from Pakistan,” Ms Swaraj said, adding: “We both agreed that nations must not maintain double standards, such as the categorisation of good and bad terrorists, nor must they act as sanctuaries and safe havens for terrorist organisations.”

Talks with Pakistan only after Pathankot probe, says Swaraj

She said both sides reaffirmed the urgent necessity for Pakistan to dismantle “safe havens for terrorists and criminal networks, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and D Company”, the latter being India’s reference to Mumbai underworld don Dawood Ibrahim who Delhi says is being sheltered by Pakistan.

“Secretary Kerry and I also agreed on the need for Pakistan to do more to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot terrorist attacks to justice quickly,” she said.

Mr Kerry agreed. “We cannot and will not distinguish between good and bad terrorists… US stands with India on all matters of terrorism, no matter where it comes from. It’s crystal clear we are on the same view over it.”

Ms Swaraj said they spoke on the need to strengthen the international legal regime to counter terrorism. “We agreed on additional measures to strengthen our counterterrorism cooperation, specifically, to work for early operationalisation of the agreement on exchange of information on known or suspected terrorists. We will also intensify intelligence sharing and continue to work closely to get terrorist entities listed by the UN system, by coordinating our approach to the UN 1267 Committee.”

Mr Kerry said the United States had been speaking to all the countries in the region about the issue, and appreciated Pakistan’s role in eliminating the threat.

He confirmed that progress was made on an agreement about the construction of six nuclear reactors by US giant Westinghouse. “We hope to see our civil nuclear cooperation take shape in the form of new reactors that will deliver reliable electricity to tens of millions of Indian households.”

The deal has been held up in the past by concerns over India’s laws that would make US companies liable for accidents at plants they helped build.

Ms Swaraj said she had thanked Mr Kerry for American support for India’s bid to join the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a bloc of 48 countries.

Earlier this year, the US led an initiative for India to gain admission to the bloc that trades in sophisticated nuclear material and technology, but China and a group of countries blocked India’s membership bid.

Washington has promised to push India’s bid at “the highest levels” before the next NSG meeting later this year.

The United States on Tuesday agreed to “look into” India’s concerns over the Obama administration’s move to hike fees for H1B and L1 visas.

India Inc. raised the issue at the India-US CEO Forum, saying the move hurt Indian IT firms which are the main users of these non-immigrant temporary work visas.

Ms Swaraj and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India had conveyed its concerns to the US side during a bilateral strategic and commercial dialogue.

The visa fee hike has “affected our people-to-people exchanges… I would urge you to find a just and non-discriminatory solution to these issues,” Ms Swaraj told Mr Kerry.

Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter sealed an agreement on Monday in Washington in efforts to strengthen defence ties to counter concerns over China’s growing military assertiveness, reports said.

Both countries can now access each other’s military bases.

Mr Parrikar has stressed that the new agreement does not allow for US bases to be set up on Indian soil, nor for troops to be stationed there.

Mr Kerry, who is on his fourth visit to India, will take questions from students at IIT-Delhi on Wednesday.

Published in Dawn

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