Accords on terrorism to space cooperation set stage for Modi’s US visit….writes Arun Kumar from Washington
India and US have set the stage for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third summit with President Barack Obama with agreements to expand counter-terrorism cooperation to support for India’s permanent membership of the Security Council.
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Tuesday listed six key takeaways from the first US-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue that she and US Secretary of State John Kerry co-chaired.
Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman and US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker led the dialogue’s commercial segment aimed at raising India-US bilateral trade five fold to $500 million.
A separate Joint Declaration on Combating Terrorism recognised the threat posed by Lashkar-e-Taeba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, D Company, and the Haqqani Network, operating from safe havens in the region and the need for Pakistan to bring perpetrators of 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice.
In a joint statement the US reiterated its support for India’s membership in four major global non-proliferation export control regimes, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
US also reaffirmed its support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member.
On climate change, India and US agreed to work together and with other countries to conclude an ambitious climate agreement in Paris in December 2015.
Following the launch of a new Space Security Dialogue in March 2015, they renewed the US-India Technology Safeguards Agreement to facilitate the launch of US satellite components on Indian space launch vehicles.
On cyber issues, India and US supported an open, inclusive, transparent, and multi-stakeholder system of internet governance and commended the resumption of the US-India Cyber Dialogue.
They also pledged to continue high level consultations on Afghanistan, making clear the enduring commitment of India and the US to the Afghan people.
India and US also expressed support for the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers led by the US and called for its timely and thorough implementation by Tehran.
They also agreed to launch new High Level Consultations led by the US Deputy Secretary of State and India’s Foreign Secretary.
India’s announcement to hold a regional Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) in Los Angeles in November 2015 to further increase people-to-people contacts between the two countries was welcomed.
They noted that their relations have never been stronger – “as reflected by unprecedented strategic cooperation, record levels of bilateral trade and investment, and more than two million annual visits between their citizens, students, and entrepreneurs.”
India and US also pledged to build on this momentum by pursuing new areas of collaboration, leveraging the talents of government and the private sector.
The joint statement also emphasised the importance of building commercial ties to drive the US-India partnership forward and agreed to launch an innovation forum in 2016.
This would provide platform for US and Indian entrepreneurs to share best practices in promoting a culture of innovation and the creation of sister innovation hubs.
A joint work stream on Ease of Doing Business was launched with an agreement to continue exchanges of information and best practices on cross- border trade.
India and US also welcomed efforts toward the removal of barriers that impact their participation in global supply chains and sustained implementation of trade facilitation measures.
Responding to India’s request for support in developing evaluation techniques for Massive Open Online Courses and Distance Education Courses, the US agreed to facilitate discussions with US industry experts specialising in this subject.
On Defence and Security Cooperation, they expressed satisfaction with progress on Defence Technology and Trade Initiative pathfinder projects, including the establishment of the Working Groups on Aircraft Carrier Technology and Jet Engine, and the growing cooperation between US and Indian defense industries through the “Make in India” initiative.
On Energy and Environment, the joint statement said they looked forward to the early signing of a new five year Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Security, Clean Energy and Climate Change.
They also announced launch of a new Fulbright-India Climate Fellowship for capacity building in climate research between India’s Department of Science and Technology and the US Department of State.
The next round of the dialogue will be held in India in 2016.