South Asia News
US, India to bolster ties, fight terrorism together
Jul 19, 2011, 11:52 GMT
New Delhi - The United States Tuesday vowed to support India in its fight against terrorism as both countries agreed to deepen security and economic ties and implement a civilian nuclear deal.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna held the second round of a strategic dialogue in New Delhi which covered the entire spectrum of bilateral ties.
Addressing a press conference with Krishna, Clinton said counter-terrorism and security were key issues in the talks that took place less than a week after serial bombings rocked the Indian financial hub of Mumbai.
'Let me convey our deep sympathy and outrage to the people and government of India,' she said, adding, '(We) pledge our support to you in your fight, which is also our fight, against terrorism and violent extremism.'
Indian investigators were still hunting for clues Tuesday as the death toll in the Mumbai attacks rose to 20 with another victim succumbing to injuries at a Mumbai hospital.
Clinton said both sides were making 'great strides' on expanding security cooperation including counter-terrorism, and National Intelligence Director James Clapper was holding 'significant' meetings in Delhi on the subject.
Earlier, the two sides signed a pact on cyber-security cooperation against the backdrop of terrorists increasingly resorting to hacking.
Discussions also addressed the volatile security situation in the wider region, a joint statement issued after talks said.
Clinton said the US was 'encouraged' by the revived peace talks between India and neighbouring rival Pakistan.
But she backed New Delhi's demand that Islamabad should 'urgently' prosecute the militant leaders behind the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai which killed 166 people.
Meanwhile, India voiced its concerns over the US troop drawdown in Afghanistan with Krishna saying Washington should take into account the realities on the ground, and ensure that Kabul was able to defend itself against Taliban insurgents.
India and the US were working to enhance bilateral economic ties including reopening negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty, he said, adding that defence cooperation and environment issues also featured in the talks.
India is currently the 12th-largest trading partner for the US with trade volume at nearly 50 billion dollars in 2010. New Delhi wants to increase it to 88 billion dollars annually.
Seeking to boost commercial relations, Clinton called for joint measures to lower trade and investment barriers. Bilateral economic ties were expected to get a fillip from a bilateral civil aviation pact signed Monday.
Clinton and Krishna also discussed the implementation of a 2008 US-India civilian nuclear deal, considered the most significant initiative between the countries, that has been stuck owing to legal issues.
Clinton allayed Delhi's concerns over the Nuclear Suppliers Group's new norms that tighten controls for exporting enrichment and reprocessing technologies, saying the changes would not affect the bilateral accord.
But she made it clear that New Delhi needed to ratify a global treaty on nuclear damages (Convention on Supplementary Compensation) by the year-end and bring its civilian nuclear law to international standards.
'We need to resolve remaining issues (on the nuclear pact) so we can reap the rewards of the extraordinary work both our governments have done,' she said.
Clinton also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the ruling Congress party president Sonia Gandhi later Tuesday.
The secretary of state, who arrived in New Delhi late Monday, is visiting India for the second time since taking office. Her tour follows President Barack Obama's visit to India last November.
Clinton was scheduled to travel to the southern city of Chennai, a hub for US investment, on Wednesday. She is to leave the country Thursday for the next leg of her trip to Indonesia and China.
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