By Arun Kumar
With US concerned about ‘safe havens’ in some area of Pakistan where extremists operate in virtual impunity, counterterrorism coordination would be a key topic of discussions between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Certainly the United States values the counterterrorism coordination relationship that we have with India. And we certainly are interested in discussing with them ways that we can strengthen that relationship,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday.
For a long time, he said the Obama administration has “expressed concerns about some areas of Pakistan where extremists operate in virtual impunity, and in many cases use that safe haven to carry out attacks against American forces that are operating in Afghanistan.”
“And that is something that we are concerned about, and we have raised those concerns with our partners in Pakistan,” Earnest said.
He noted that “Pakistan had taken additional steps to try to root out the extremists that are operating in that area,” Earnest said. “And we certainly would welcome those steps.”
“But those are steps that are ultimately taken by the Pakistani government because they recognize that the extremist threat that exists in their country poses a significant threat to their citizens,” he said.
“A lot of Muslim-led countries understand that they have a clear stake in this fight, and they have a reason and a motivation and an interest in taking the fight to extremists that were operating in their country,” Earnest said.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, who visited India in August, said the US-Indian relationship was high on his priority list.
The president’s trip, he said, “may well produce some very tangible and positive results of an effort being made, was made, continues to be made, by this department.”
Frank Kendall, defence undersecretary of acquisitions, is in India working on things that be delivered in Prime Minister Modi and President Obama’s meetings, he told reporters.
“I think it is a unique time for India. It’s a particularly, I think, unique time for this relationship between India and the United States,” he said.
“And I am very proud of the progress we’ve made. We’ll make continued progress. We’ll make more progress. We need to,” Hagel said.