India, US discuss terror as Modi reaches Washington for nuke summit

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Mar 31, 2016 22:14 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Indian community members outside his hotel in Washington. (PTI Photo)

India and the US discussed ongoing counter-terrorism cooperation in the lead up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival on Thursday for the Nuclear Security Summit.

Modi reached Washington early on Thursday morning from Brussels for the two-day summit aimed at preventing nuclear material from falling into the hands of terrorists and traffickers.

An initiative of US President Barack Obama, India has wholeheartedly embraced the summit given challenges it faces from terrorist groups based in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

There are long-standing security concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, considered the world’s fastest growing by experts, despite Islamabad’s assertion that it’s safe.

Before a meeting with visiting National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Wednesday, US secretary of state John Kerry spoke of “serious questions” raised by “some choices” made in the region in the sphere of nuclear arms. He didn’t name any country or entity.

India, on the other hand, Kerry said, “has a long record of being a leader, of being responsible” in its stewardship of “nuclear weapons and nuclear materials”.

Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed figured in discussions held the same day by Doval at his meeting with his US counterpart Susan Rice.

A White House statement about their meeting said the two terrorist groups were discussed in the context of India-US counter-terror cooperation.

Doval and Rice also discussed the “terrorist threat posed by ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — another name for Islamic State) in the region and the importance of combating the ideology that fuels such groups”.

Islamic State is a top concern for the summit in the light of recent attacks in Paris and Brussels, with a special session set aside for discussing measures to tackle it.

World leaders will discuss, Obama wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Thursday, ways to prevent “the world’s most dangerous networks from obtaining the world’s most dangerous weapons”.

The session on IS is on Friday, with sessions on nuclear security, following discussions about nuclear security accompanied by presentations by attending delegations.

Modi and other world leaders will join Obama at the White House on Thursday evening for a working dinner during which they will discuss “Nuclear Security Threat Perceptions”.

US officials have said there will be a summit communiqué at the end and some 17 announcements along the way.

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