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First bilateral meet: PM Narendra Modi, Joe Biden talk Pak role in Afghanistan

This is in sync with US Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Antony Blinken's comments on Pakistan.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
September 26, 2021 2:39:00 am
PM Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In his first meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden discussed Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan as one of the key challenges, and there was a sense that it needs a more “careful monitoring”, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Saturday.

This is in sync with US Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Antony Blinken’s comments on Pakistan.

While Harris had conveyed her perception in a bilateral meeting with Modi, Blinken had conveyed it to the US Congress.

Biden also reaffirmed to strengthen the defence relationship and his unwavering commitment to India as a major defence partner, a process started during the Obama administration when he was Vice President, and consolidated during the last four years of the Trump administration.

Modi raised several issues involving the Indian community in the US, including access for Indian professionals there and H-1B visas, Shringla said. They also laid “strong emphasis” on developing trade and economic relations with the US, Shringla said.

Biden welcomed Modi to the White House on Friday, and the meeting of the two leaders in the Oval Office lasted for more than 90 minutes, instead of the scheduled 60 minutes.

Asked about Biden’s comments on the “shared responsibility to uphold democratic values” and their “joint commitment to diversity”, Shringla said, “I would see the President’s remarks in that context that we are all countries that have…the points you mentioned in terms of shared responsibility is diversity, family ties, emphasis to family ties, emphasis on non-violence, tolerance, respect — those that we fully believe in. In fact, India is ingrained in exactly those areas…. So I would see it as a reaffirmation of our democracy. A sense of the fact that India and the United States represent two vibrant dynamic democracies on the move.”

While Harris had also said earlier that it is incumbent on the two nations to protect democracies in the best interests of people of these countries, Biden’s message on democracy was clear that the administration was driving it’s point home.

In sync with Harris’s discussions with Modi earlier, Shringla said that during the bilateral discussions at the While House, there was a clear concern expressed on Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan and the continuing support for an approach that did not seem to be conducive to the international community’s expectations of what the war-torn country should be like.

During the meeting, both India and the US agreed that the issue of terrorism is very important. Both sides denounced any use of terrorist proxies and emphasised the importance of denying the logistical, financial or military support to terrorist groups, which could be used to plan, or launch terror attacks, the Foreign Secretary said.

Noting that there was quite a bit of discussion on Afghanistan, Shringla said there was a lot of importance attached to the fact that UN resolution 2593 was adopted and India’s presidency of the Security Council. This is an important resolution which reflected the international community’s general view on the situation in Afghanistan and obligations of the ruling dispensation there to fulfill certain conditionalities that the international community faced are important, he said.

“So, the two sides underscored the importance of combat and terrorism in Afghanistan. They called on the Taliban to adhere to these and all of its commitments under resolution 2593,” Shringla said. “That includes, obviously, the issue of ensuring that Afghan territory is not used to threaten attack against any country, shelter any terrorist groups or finance terrorist attacks and underscores the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan.”

Pakistan, which is projecting itself as a facilitator, has been in many senses an instigator of some of the problems that India has been dealing with in its neighbourhood, Shringla said.

“Both in the bilateral discussions as well as in the forum discussions there was the clear sense that a more careful look, and a more careful examination and monitoring of Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s role on the issue of terrorism had to be kept, and that certainly whether it is Quad or its other partners have to keep track of that factor,” Shringla said.

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