After the Indo-US 2+2 meeting on Tuesday, Foreign and Defence ministers of India and the US called on Pakistan to take “immediate, sustained and irreversible” action to ensure that “no territory under its control is used for terrorist attacks”, and to expeditiously bring to justice perpetrators and planners of all such attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai, Uri, and Pathankot.
In December 2019, Uri was not mentioned in the joint statement.
The leaders also discussed their shared interest in promoting a sovereign, peaceful, united, democratic, inclusive, stable and secure Afghanistan, including support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, the statement said. External Affairs minister S Jaishankar had highlighted India’s stakes in Afghanistan on Monday with his counterpart, US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo, stating that decisions about the country’s future should be made by Afghans without use of force.
They applauded India’s development assistance for Afghanistan, and efforts to build trade linkages and multi-modal connectivity infrastructure for the country to enhance its regional connectivity to sustain growth and development over the long term.
On 5G, on which the US has always asked India to avoid Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE, the ministers on Tuesday reaffirmed their commitment towards an “open, reliable and secure internet”, as well as the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. “They emphasized fostering cooperation between their industry and academia for an open, secure and resilient supply of strategic material and critical infrastructure and to independently evaluate the risk associated with deployment of emerging ICT technologies, including 5G networks”, it said.
Consolidating the gains
Tuesday’s 2+2 ministerial meeting evaluated and consolidated the gains made over the last four years. It also set up ambitious targets and initiatives for the next incumbent in the US administration, cutting across sectors from nuclear to defence, and narcotics to health. New Delhi will now watch the next White House occupant on how he takes the ties forward.
Recalling the historic India-US civil nuclear agreement, which has been stuck for a decade, the ministers welcomed the project “Division of Responsibility principles between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC) for the construction of six nuclear reactors at Kovvada, and looked forward to the detailed Division of Responsibility that would pave the way for a techno-commercial offer”.
After Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met Pompeo and US Defence Secretary Mark T Esper, they also decided that a new India-US Counter-Narcotics Working Group will hold its first virtual meeting later this year, with an in-person meeting in 2021, an initiative to collaborate through an International Center of Excellence in Research focused on infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and other emerging threats, and an overarching MoU to enhance health cooperation.
The joint statement said: “The Ministers committed to continued exchange of information about sanctions and designations against terror groups and individuals, particularly in light of recent legislative changes in India, as well as countering the financing and operations of terrorist organizations, countering radicalism and terrorist use of the internet…. They denounced the use of terrorist proxies and strongly condemned cross border terrorism in all its forms. They emphasised the need for concerted action against all terrorist networks, including al-Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.”
This was similar to the 2019 joint statement, except that the Dawood Ibrahim gang and Tehrik-e-Taliban of Pakistan are not mentioned this time.
The ministers intend to enhance their ongoing cooperation in multilateral fora, including the UN. They reaffirmed their support for the early adoption of a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which will advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation and reinforce the message that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism, the statement said.
They agreed on stepping up efforts to “rejuvenate and expand” bilateral India-US trade in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this regard, they “noted” ongoing discussions by the United States Trade Representative and India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry to reach an understanding on improving market access, removing barriers to trade, and improving the business environment.
Underscoring the importance of ties between the legislatures, the ministers agreed to the launch of an India-US Parliamentary Exchange.
They also decided to issue 12-month reciprocal temporary duty visas to officials from both governments as a step to facilitate the growing partnership.
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