U.S. and India Begin Talks to ‘Strengthen Cooperation Against Terrorist Threats’

President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands after making statements in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, June 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The United States and its ally India have commenced bilateral efforts to pursue designations against terrorist groups and individuals as part of their shared commitment to combat jihadist organizations, announced the U.S. Department of State.

U.S. President Donald Trump considers India to be “a key security and economic” American partner in Afghanistan and the rest of the South Asian region.

Both India and the United States have affiliated Afghanistan’s neighbor Pakistan to jihadist organizations in South Asia, an accusation that Islamabad denies.

The nuclear-armed neighbors — Pakistan and India — are regional rivals.

A joint statement on the first U.S.-India counterterrorism designations discussion notes:

The inaugural U.S.-India Counterterrorism Designations Dialogue was held in New Delhi, India on December 18-19 to discuss increasing bilateral cooperation on terrorism-related designations. The establishment of this mechanism reflects shared U.S. and Indian commitments to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats.

The U.S. and Indian delegations exchanged information on procedures for pursuing designations against terrorist groups and individuals through domestic and international mechanisms. They also discussed best practices for effective implementation of the designations.

The United States is expected to host the second round of discussions on counterterrorism designations next year.

Referring to the new agreement, India Today reports:

This mechanism was discussed during the Indo-US Strategic dialogue that took place between US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, in October.

Officials of the two sides have been in constant touch to work out the details before the key “Counter-terrorism Designations Dialogue” could be unveiled.

In its newly unveiled National Security Strategy (NSS), the Trump administration vowed to enhance its relationship with India while pledging to pressure Pakistan to stop lending support to jihadist groups killing and maiming Americans in Afghanistan.

The NSS notes:

We will deepen our strategic partnership with India and support its leadership role in Indian Ocean security and throughout the broader region.

We will press Pakistan to intensify its counterterrorism efforts, since no partnership can survive a country’s support for militants and terrorists who target a partner’s own service members and officials. The United States will also encourage Pakistan to continue demonstrating that it is a responsible steward of its nuclear assets.

Echoing various experts, the U.S. government has expressed concerns that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal may fall into terrorist hands.

According to the U.S. military, the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is home to the “highest concentration” of terrorist groups in the world.

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