India, US to deepen security ties; increase trade to $500 bln

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Washington: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with US President Barack Obama next week, the two countries have decided to further deepen their security and economic cooperation and increase bilateral trade five-fold to USD 500 billion.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj co-chaired the first India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue that ended with the important takeaway of a joint statement on combating terrorism, reinforcing commercial ties and securing access to US inward investment and technology.

The dialogue also helped the two countries move towards the goal of making their ties the defining relationship of the 21st century and increase bilateral trade from USD 100 billion to USD 500 billion a year.

Kerry said the US-India relationship is a “bright spot on the international landscape and is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world.”

“President Obama and our entire administration are strongly committed to this relationship, to this friendship.

And President Obama looks forward to meeting with Prime Minister Modi next week in New York,” he said at a joint press conference with Swaraj after the meeting here yesterday.

Briefing about the meeting, he said, “We have concluded a very significant Memorandum of Understanding on energy security, climate change, and clean energy.”

“We have renewed our joint commitment to maritime security, international law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions,” he said, adding that the two countries will implement measures to deepen their cooperation against international terrorism, which has claimed too many lives in both the nations.

Swaraj said the joint statement reiterates commitment of the two countries on common approach against terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Haqqani network and the D-Company.

“We (India and the US) reiterate that the threat posed by al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, D-Company (Dawood Ibrahim), Haqqani network and other regional groups undermines stability in South Asia. And we call to Pakistan to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack,” Swaraj told reporters.

“We (India and the US) strongly condemn the July 27, 2015 terrorist attack in Gurdaspur, Punjab, and August 5, 2015 attack in Udhampur,” she said of the terror assaults in India which were carried out by terrorists based in Pakistan.

Swaraj said the joint statement states that the two countries are determined to fight terrorism to the end.

In response to a question, Kerry said the two countries are committed to bringing all their efforts together in this fight against terrorism.

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