New Delhi: India and the US on Thursday told Pakistan not to let its soil be used by terrorists to carry out cross-border terror attacks while demanding that the perpetrators of earlier terror attacks be expeditiously brought to justice. New Delhi and Washington also committed to work together toward advancing a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
“The Ministers denounced any use of terrorist proxies in the region, and in this context, they called on Pakistan to ensure that the territory under its control is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries,” a joint statement issued following the first ever 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis here said.
“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,” it stated.
“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 Qaeda, ISIS (IS or Islamic State), Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, D-Company, and their affiliates.”
According to the statement, the Ministers welcomed the expansion of bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation and 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.
While committing to enhance their ongoing cooperation in multilateral fora such as the UN and Financial Action Task Force (FATF), they reaffirmed their support for the India-initiated UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism “that will advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation and reinforce the message that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism”. “The two sides further reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing and future cooperation to ensure a stable cyberspace environment and to prevent cyber-attacks,” the statement said.
It also stated that the Ministers reviewed cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and noted that the common principles for the region articulated in the India-US joint statement of June 2017 have been further amplified by US President Donald Trump at Danang, Vietnam on November 10, 2017, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Singapore at the Shangri-La Dialogue on June 1, 2018.
“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 (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) centrality and on respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, rule of law, good governance, free and fair trade, and freedom of navigation and overflight,” the statement said.
“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,” it stated in an apparent reference to China putting countries in the region in debt traps under its Belt and Road Initiative.
India and the US are both part of the quad revived last year, that also includes Japan and Australia, seeking to work for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
According to the statement, the Ministers also reaffirmed their shared commitment to a united, sovereign, democratic, inclusive, stable, prosperous, and peaceful Afghanistan and expressed support for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.
“The United States 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,” it stated.
While India welcomed the recent US-North Korea summit, the US welcomed India’s accession to the three export control regimes – the Australia Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Missile Technology Control Regime.
Washington also reiterated its support to New Delhi for its bid to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
China has been blocking India’s bid for membership in the NSG on the ground that for a country to become a member of the 48-nation bloc, it should be a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
According to the joint statement, The Ministers recognised the importance and the potential for increasing bilateral trade, and investment and committed to further expanding and balancing the trade and economic partnership, including by facilitating trade, improving market access, and addressing issues of interest to both sides.
On the India-US civilian nuclear agreement, it stated: “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.”