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India, US to transform ties into counter-terrorism partnership

India and the US have agreed to transform their relationship into “a defining counter-terrorism partnership for the 21st century” and again called on Pakistan to bring perpetrators of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks to justice.

The call was made on Tuesday in an India-US Joint Declaration on Combating Terrorism issued at the end of the first India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue that set the stage for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third summit with President Barack Obama next week.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who led the dialogue, “reaffirmed the commitment of India and the United States to combat terrorism in all its forms,” the declaration said.

Describing terrorism as “a profound threat to global peace and security, and to uphold our common values of democracy, justice, and the rule of law,” the declaration reaffirmed Obama and Modi’s “vision to transform the US-India relationship into a defining counterterrorism partnership for the 21st century.”

The declaration also “reiterated the threat posed by entities such as Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, Lashkar-e-Taeba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, D Company, and the Haqqani Network, and other regional groups that seek to undermine stability in South Asia.”

Calling on Pakistan to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attack, Swaraj and Kerry strongly condemned the July 27, 2015 terrorist attack in Gurdaspur, Punjab, and August 5, 2015, attack in Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir.

Swaraj and Kerry, the declaration said, had also commended the continuing efforts to finalise a bilateral agreement to expand intelligence sharing and terrorist watch-list information.

They also commended progress toward India’s entry into the US Department of Homeland Security Global Entry Programme and the inclusion of Mumbai in the Strong Cities Network, a forum to build sub-national resiliency against violent extremism,

Continuing discussions on Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance were also commended as also the US-India Megacity Policing Exchange, an initiative to deepen collaboration on training and community policing between local and state law enforcement.

Swaraj and Kerry also commended progress toward a Memorandum of Understanding between the Indian National Police Academy (Hyderabad) and the New York Police Department.

The proposed next meeting of the Homeland Security Dialogue will be held in early 2016.

The declaration also recognised the serious threat posed by ISIL/Daesh to global security and affirmed efforts to degrade and defeat this threat in accordance with the provisions of UN Security Council Resolutions.

The declaration recalled the signing of the US-India Counter-terrorism Cooperation Initiative (CCI), establishment of the Homeland Security Dialogue in 2010, and several other joint initiatives.

It also reaffirmed their support for a UN Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism that advances and strengthens the framework for global cooperation and reinforces that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism.

Swaraj and Kerry also commended the meeting of the US-India Terrorist Designations Exchange in July 2015 to strengthen cooperation on domestic terrorist designations.

Also commended was the proposed next round of the Counter-terrorism Joint Working Group in early 2016.

So were discussions on cyber security at the US-India Cyber Dialogue in August 2015 and continuing close cooperation on cyber security and information sharing.