The United States and India agreed Tuesday to boost counterterrorism cooperation by expanding intelligence sharing about known or suspected extremists and terrorist threats.
Speaking after conclusion of the second US-India strategic dialogue in New Delhi with visiting US secretary of state John Kerry, Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said the two countries also renewed their commitment to track down and prosecute perpetrators of several terrorist attacks on Indian soil, including the 2008 strike in Mumbai and a January 2016 attack on the Pathankot Air Force base. India has blamed Pakistan-linked groups for the attacks.
Swaraj said the two sides had agreed on the “urgent necessity for Pakistan to disable safe havens and terrorist networks” and “on the need to Pakistan to do more to bring the perpetrators of (the two attacks) to justice quickly.”
“We reaffirmed the urgent necessity for Pakistan to dismantle safe havens for terrorists and criminals networks including LeT, JeM and the D-Company,” she said.
On his part, Kerry said, “US continues to support all efforts to bring the perpetrators of 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot attacks to justice.”
The US Secretary of State arrived in New Delhi on Monday for strategic and commercial talks with India. He is leading the American delegation to the seventh meeting of the US-India strategic dialogue, which seeks to improve between the nations.
Swaraj said that she apprised Kerry of cross border terrorism by Pakistan and said there cannot be double standards in combating terror.
“I briefed secretary Kerry on the continuing problem of cross border terrorism that India and the larger region faces from Pakistan,” said Swaraj.
Echoing the Indian foreign minister’s remark, Kerry also said that US can’t and won’t make distinction between good and bad terrorists.
“US stands with India on all matters of terrorism, no matter where it comes from; it’s crystal clear we are on the same view over it”, he said.
But, he did say he had spoken recently with Pakistani officials about “the need for Pakistan to deprive any (terrorist) group of sanctuary.” He specifically named the Haqqani network that operates in Afghanistan as well as Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has been blamed for attacks in India.
“It is vital that Pakistan join with other nations in tackling this challenge, and in fairness, in recent weeks and months they have been moving more authoritatively,” Kerry said.
The counterterror cooperation will include an expansion of the exchange of screening information and expediting the processing of requests from both nations for information about potential suspects, the ministers said.
Swaraj said India remained ready to open discussions with Pakistan but that such dialogue was difficult while India remains a target of Pakistan-based groups.
The US has consistently urged dialogue between India and Pakistan on the dispute and, in a meeting with Indian national security adviser Ajit Doval, Kerry reiterated that position, according to US officials.
The two countries also agreed to restart a three-way dialogue with Afghanistan over its future and signed an agreement to combat and counter cyberattacks.
The nations also reaffirmed pledges to boost cooperation on climate change and clean energy development, including pressing ahead with the previously agreed construction of six nuclear reactors by the US firm Westinghouse.
(With inputs from AP)