Setting the stage for a deeper relationship with India, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said both countries should look at each other “with new eyes and embrace the age of ambition”.
Even as he asked both nations “to deliver”, Pompeo made a veiled call against data localisation, and hinted at not allowing Chinese company Huawei from accessing 5G network in the country, Both issues have recently become sore points between the two nations.
Pompeo said he is confident that India and the US can “work together with partners such as Japan to keep India’s networks and the 5G networks of the future safe and reliable”. Raising the issue of data localisation, which India seems keen to enforce, Pompeo said he is “certain that there is a way” to reach and agreement “that allows data to flow freely”, which can “Balkanise the internet” and make companies “less competitive and impede economic growth”.
Supporting India’s claim for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, Pompeo said, “India, more and more, is standing on the world stage, and we welcome your assertiveness because it’s good for the world.” This is why, he said, the US has “supported your permanent seat on the UN Security Council”.
Pompeo said he can see that India’s IT sector is “more than just a digital miracle” and is rather a “source of great national pride”.
He also pushed for reducing trade barriers between the two countries. He said together with the US, India can “find a new appreciation for economic freedom that complements political freedom”, and that he is confident that a “solution can be found” to reduce the trade barriers for “reciprocal trade and benefits the citizens of India and US alike”.
Pompeo said his country wants India to contribute robustly in the energy security region as well, and the two nations must work together to “provide clean energy for all Indian people”.
Trillions of dollars of potential US investment is “sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be put to work in the Indo-Pacific region”, which can help the Indian job market, Pompeo said.
Beyond business, he also stressed on the need to protect the rights of religious minorities. He said India, which is the “birthplace of four major world religions” should stand with the US in “defence of religious freedom for all”, and must “speak up together in favour of those rights; for, whenever we compromise those rights, the world is worse off.”
He emphasised that both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump has spoken about the world coming together to counter terrorism and the two countries must work together even more closely to “thwart terrorism, that afflicts South, Central Asia”.
The US, Pompeo claimed, was “pleased to see the UN sanctions committee” designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.
The US, Pompeo said, respects India’s sovereignty and seeks a “true partnership”. He asked for closer defence ties “grounded in interoperability, with common platforms, shared doctrines and new technologies”.
As the elections in India have concluded, he said that “it’s time that each of us deliver”. He stressed that “right now we have an absolute perfect chance to go even further than many have dreamed” as both the nations have leader “who aren’t afraid to blaze great trails and aren’t afraid to take risks”.
India and the US took “decades to realise just how far this friendship can go,” Pompeo said and there is still “a nagging misconception that our countries are not able to be full partners” as the “distrust of an earlier era still lingers”.
Both nations should view each other beyond the “narrow bilateral lens” added “see the world as it is and should see for what we are, great democracies, global powers and good friends”, he said.
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