India, US agree to deepen cooperation to combat terror

India and the US have agreed to deepen cooperation in international fora like the United Nations and the Financial Action Task Force to combat terrorism.
In a joint press statement with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Defence Minister Nirmala Sithraman and Secretary of Defence James Mattis after conclusion of 2 plus 2 dialogue between India and the US, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in New Delhi that counter-terrorism cooperation between the two sides have acquired a new qualitative edge and purpose.
India welcomed the recent designations of Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists by the United States. Mrs Swaraj said, they underscored the international community’s scrutiny over the threat of terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which has affected India and the United States alike.
On the issue H1-B visa, Mrs Swaraj sought Secretary Pompeo’s support to nurture the people-to-people links. India conveyed its expectation for a non-discriminatory approach to the H1B visa regime, given its high impact on innovation, competitiveness and people-to-people partnership.
Mrs Swaraj said, the two sides agreed to strengthen the bilateral cooperation as well as cooperation with other partners in the region to achieve common goals in connectivity and infrastructure.
The situation in South Asia was also discussed in some detail. Mrs Swaraj said, India supports President Donald Trump’s South Asia Policy. She said, President Trump’s call to Pakistan to stop its policy of supporting cross-border terrorism finds resonance with India.
The two sides discussed the ongoing efforts by India and the United States in promoting an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan government-controlled reconciliation process, that brings together all ethnic groups and political formation in the country.
The Minister announced setting up of the new hotline to closely monitor the implementation of the decisions taken today.
In his statement, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said,  US will continue to cooperate with India in different areas. He said, the dialogue was symbolic and regional and global issues were discussed including situation in Afghanistan.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, COMCASA, was signed between the two sides today.
This will enable India to access advanced technologies from the US and enhance India’s defence preparedness.
She said, maritime Security has been a focus area of the cooperation and the two sides will expand the interactions on Maritime Domain Awareness to deepen the ties in this area.
The Minister said, defence cooperation has emerged as the most significant dimension of the strategic partnership and as a key driver of the overall bilateral relationship. The two sides have decided to carry out for the first time, tri-service joint exercises.
Secretary of Defence James Mattis said, India is a stabilising force against the strategic fault-lines in the regions. He said, the COMCASA agreement signed between the two sides will further deepen military to military partnership between India and the US.

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