Pakistan put on notice on terrorist havens after Modi, Trump meeting

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting the President of United States of America (USA), Donald Trump, after the Joint Press Statement at White House, in Washington. Pic/AFP
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting the President of United States of America (USA), Donald Trump, after the Joint Press Statement at White House, in Washington. Pic/AFP

Pakistan was put on notice by the US and India who called for rooting out terrorists' safe havens and to fight groups, including Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba and D-company, even as the two countries decided to broaden their strategic, defence and economic relationship.

The new direction in the bilateral relationship came during the summit meeting on Monday night between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump who met for the first time six months after the host's election to the top office. However, the joint statement makes no reference to the H1B visa issues on which India has serious concerns, and the Paris accord on climate change on which Trump made critical remarks on India and China.

The two leaders also told Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used for terror attacks on other countries and asked it to bring to justice terrorists blamed for attacks in Mumbai and other places in India. "The leaders stressed that terrorism is a global scourge that must be fought and terrorist safe havens rooted out in every part of the world. They resolved that India and the US will fight together against this grave challenge to humanity.

"They committed to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including Al Qaeda, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), D-Company and their affiliates," said the joint statement issued after their meeting.

India appreciated the US designating the Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist -- just ahead of the Trump-Modi meet of Monday -- "as evidence of the commitment of the US to end terror in all its forms".

The statement specifically referred to the terror attacks in Mumbai (2008) and Pathankot (2016) that it said were perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups and said the terrorists must be expeditiously brought to justice.

The LeT was blamed for the Mumbai mayhem of November 2008 that killed 166 Indians and foreigners including Americans. The Jaish was accused of attacking the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in Punjab, leaving seven security personnel dead.

Also, in their joint remarks to the media after delegation level talks, both Modi and Trump spoke of their commitment to combat terrorism. Modi said battling terror and destroying terrorist hideouts would be an important part of mutual cooperation.

"We will enhance the intelligence exchange to boost coordination to address our common concerns over terrorism and will deepen our policy coordination accordingly." Modi said the two countries had agreed to increase cooperation to tackle increasing radicalisation, extremism and terrorism.

Trump said both India and the US had been struck by terrorism, "and we are both determined to destroy terrorist organisations and the radical ideology that drives them. "We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism," he said.

"Our militaries are working every day to enhance cooperation between our military forces. And next month, they will join together with the Japanese navy to take place in the largest maritime exercise ever conducted in the vast Indian Ocean."

Answering questions later, Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said the US move to declare Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist had sent a clear signal. "You should take the step for what it is. It is in a sense fixing responsibility, highlighting a problem.

"There is a context to it... It is focusing on a particular group and a particular individual... I think none of us can really miss that message." The Foreign Secretary said there was a broad discussion on Pakistan. It was also extensive and very detailed on certain issues.

"We had very much converging viewpoint of what is the problem, let us diagnose the problem. And it is not just the Indian situation... A lot of discussion related to what was happening in Afghanistan."

On economic cooperation, the two countries said they plan to undertake a comprehensive review of trade relations to expedite regulatory processes and increase market access in areas such as agriculture, information technology and manufactured goods and services. They also resolved to pursue increased commercial engagement in a manner that advances the principles of free and fair trade.

"Prime Minister Modi and President Trump looked forward to conclusion of contractual agreements between Westinghouse Electric Company and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India for six nuclear reactors in India and also related project financing," the statement said.

Against the backdrop of Trump's remarks against India and China regarding the Paris climate change agreement, the statement said the two leaders called for a rational approach that balances environment and climate policy, global economic development and energy security needs.

The US cleared the sale of Guardian drones to India with the two countries pledging to deepen their defence and security cooperation. The statement said that the two countries look forward to working together on advanced defence equipment and technology "at a level commensurate with that of the closest allies and partners of the United States."

"Reflecting the partnership, the United States has offered for India's consideration the sale of Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial Systems, which would enhance India's capabilities and promote shared security interests," it said.

The United States expressed strong support for India's early membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group. It also reaffirmed the support of the United States for India's permanent membership of a reformed U.N. Security Council.

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