‘Focused on pressing Pak to take sustained, irreversible action on terrorist groups on its soil’

Washington: The United States is “focused on pressing Pakistan to take sustained, irreversible action on terrorist groups operating on its soil” and is “working with others in the international community to achieve this goal” in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, a senior US State Department official noted.

The statement also comes following China blocking a proposal – for the fourth time – in the UN Security Council to list JeM chief Masood Azhar under the UN sanctions committee.

“The events of the past few weeks have underscored that the US-India relationship is a global and long-term partnership, that we will stand by each other in times of crisis, and that we are working diligently to expand our habits of cooperation…We stood publicly and resolutely with India in its response to the attack, as you saw in our statements while joining the international community in encouraging both sides to avoid military escalation, de-escalate tensions, and communicate directly,” the official said.

“Now we are focused on pressing Pakistan to take sustained, irreversible action on terrorist groups operating on its soil, and we are working with others in the international community to achieve this goal,” the official added.
Talking about Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale’s recent visit to Washington, the official outlined that the visit “demonstrated the transformation of our strategic relationship”.

“My overarching conclusion from the visit is that US-India strategic interests are broadly aligned, structural, and deep; that our relationship will continue to thrive; and that commitment to this relationship transcends party lines both here and in New Delhi. We see eye to eye on Indo-Pacific issues, the pressing need to confront terrorism, and the critical importance of the growing US-India defence relationship,” the official mentioned.

The official stated the outcomes from Gokhale’s meeting with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. “The Foreign Secretary’s visit started with a meeting with Secretary Pompeo, who emphasized that the United States stands with India in the fight against terrorism and that we are committed to assisting India in bringing those responsible for the reprehensible Pulwama attack to justice. The two also discussed expanding our defence and economic partnership, our complementary visions for the Indo-Pacific, and our appreciation for India’s contributions in Afghanistan, as well as continued support for the mission of Special Representative Khalilzad,” the senior official said.

“We then held the Foreign Office Consultations, led by Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale on our side, reinvigorating an important mechanism in which the United States and India get together to compare notes on global issues and talk about our cooperation throughout the world. This year’s consultations included discussion of developments in the DPRK (North Korea), Iran, and Venezuela. It was clear in these conversations that we have many joint goals and priorities,” the official stated.

“Foreign Secretary Gokhale also co-chaired the Strategic Security Dialogue with Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson; and members of his delegation held the India-US Space Dialogue with Assistant Secretary for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance Yleem Poblete. These discussions focused on some of the most pressing global threats and reaffirmed our commitment to working together to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and confronting threats in space. Our consultations with India on these issues are of the same nature as those with our closest allies, demonstrating the level of trust and cooperation between our two governments. And, as was the case throughout Foreign Secretary Gokhale’s visit, these conversations were frank, substantive, and strategic,” the official mentioned.

The official also outlined the meeting of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) this week, co-chaired by US Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment, Ellen Lord, and Indian Secretary of Defense Production, Ajay Kumar, “which focused on encouraging US and Indian industry to work together and develop next-generation technologies”.

“DTTI included updates on ongoing projects and collaborative opportunities in land, naval, air, and aircraft carrier technologies; a meeting with US and Indian industry representatives; a visit to Norfolk Naval Station to tour the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and destroyer USS Bainbridge; and a visit to a US defense company. I…wanted to mention this to further underscore the multifaceted nature of our partnership with India as captured by just one week’s worth of meetings,” the official stated.

Speaking on the economic front, the official said: “The United States is proud to be India’s largest export market and most important economic partner, but we have struggled with regulatory issues that get in the way of the ease of doing business and market access for American companies and products. And despite intensive engagement with the Government of India for nearly a year, India did not assure the United States that it would provide equitable and reasonable access to its market, which led to its termination from the Generalized System of Preferences program.”
“While we were pleased that growing US exports to India, large crude oil and LNG, led to a 7.1 percent reduction in our bilateral goods trade deficit last year, many structural challenges in our trade relationship have yet to be resolved. Trade has frankly been an area of frustration in the relationship, but the door is open if India is prepared to bring a serious proposal to the table,” they stated.

The official also appreciated the Ambassador of India to the USA, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, before concluding. “I want to note that I attended a dinner last night at which Indian Ambassador Shringla spoke eloquently and in great detail about the value and positive trajectory of our bilateral relationship. Only here for less than two months, Ambassador Shringla has already made an extraordinary impression here in DC, and we look forward to working with him in the months and years to come,” the official ment ioned.