External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today raised the issue of terrorism and H-1B with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as the two leaders met for the first time in a bilateral setting. Swaraj and Tillerson, who met here on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session, also discussed strengthening of the US-India political and economic partnership, officials said.
“The Secretary thanked the Minister for India’s contributions to stability and development in Afghanistan and the region,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said after the meeting. “They discussed further strengthening the US-India political and economic partnership,” she said.
Swaraj also strongly raised with Tillerson the issue of H1-B visa, the most sought after by Indian IT professionals. The Trump administration is currently reviewing the H-1B visa policy as it thinks that the visa is being misused by companies to replace American workers. “The two ministers discussed regional issues, with a focus of Pakistan, Afghanistan and terrorism,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. The two sides reviewed all aspects of bilateral relationship, including expanding trade and investment relations, he added.
They also discussed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. US President Donald Trump this month scrapped an amnesty programme that granted work permits to immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as children. The move can impact 800,000 undocumented workers including thousands of Indian-Americans. According to Nauert, Swaraj and Tillerson also discussed the upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which the US and India will co-host in Hyderabad from November 28 to 30.
The American delegation would be led by Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the US President Trump. During the meeting, the two leaders also discussed a wide range of bilateral issues, including the situation in the neighbourhood and the Indo-Asia Pacific region, officials said. This was the first highest-level meeting between the leaders of the two countries since June when Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with President Trump. The meeting also comes ahead of the visit of Defence Secretary Jim Mattis to India next week.
This was the first stand-alone meeting between Swaraj and Tillerson. “Secretary Tillerson and Minister Swaraj also looked forward to convening a 2+2 dialogue alongside Minister of Defence (Nirmala) Sitharaman and Secretary of Defense (Jim) Mattis in the near future,” Nauert said. Swaraj is scheduled to deliver her address to the UN General Assembly tomorrow.