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Security and Counter-Terrorism Key to Strengthening India-US Ties: Tulsi Gabbard

Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to the Congress, was in conversation with the Indian envoy to the US, Navtej Sarna, at the event

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Terrorism, Tulsi Gabbard
Security and Counter-Terrorism Key to Strengthening India-US Ties: Tulsi Gabbard. Twitter
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  • Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to the Congress, was in conversation with the Indian envoy to the US, Navtej Sarna
  • Gabbard also said there’s still a lot of excitement in Washington around Modi’s visit
  • Sarna pointed out at the ongoing Malabar joint naval exercise, which is aimed at enhancing interoperability between the navies of India, US and Japan

– by Radhika Bhirani

New York, July 15, 2017: A stronger partnership in dealing with counter-terrorism will give an impetus to India-US relations, US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has said.

“The number of military-to-military engagement and exercises between US and India exceeds any other partner in the region and it is only continuing to grow,” the Hawaiian Democrat said at a Ficci-IIFA Global Business Forum here on Friday.

Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to the Congress, was in conversation with the Indian envoy to the US, Navtej Sarna, at the event.

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They discussed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US last month to meet President Donald Trump and how opportunities must be explored to further strengthen ties between the two countries.

Stressing the need to boost counter-terrorism, Gabbard said: “There is a recognition of the benefit to continuing to strengthen the partnership and engagement, to ensure the countries are stable and that we deal with unconventional counter-terror threats together… Because then we will be stronger.”

Sarna pointed out at the ongoing Malabar joint naval exercise, which is aimed at enhancing interoperability between the navies of India, US and Japan. “Aircraft carriers from India and US are exercising together with submarines. This year, India has been designated as a major defence partner by the US… We need to fight this together, and we appreciate the personal reactions we got on the recent attack on pilgrims in India,” he added.

Gabbard also said there’s still a lot of excitement in Washington around Modi’s visit.

“For those of us on the India-US Caucus and those who have been working on India-US partnership for years, everyone is saying it that these are the most exciting times for friendship between both the countries.

She mentioned that economic partnerships were flourishing and so too were relationships in technology, education, culture and the Arts. “Having the IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) celebrations here is appropriate given how much interest not just the Indian-American audience has, but the Americans as a whole have in films coming from India. This is increasing the understanding and affinity between the people of the two countries,” she said.

Sarna appreciated how the support for India-US engagement is “bipartisan and across the political spectrum”. He even said that during Modi’s visit to meet Trump, they “hit it off in terms of understanding, engaging each other and listening to each other’s concerns”. (IANS)

 

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China, Pakistan and Afghanistan Sign a Deal to Enhance Counter Terrorism

China has said it would help build roads and railways to connect it with Afghanistan.

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Pakistan, CHina, Afghanistan
Afghanistan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Salahuddin Rabbani, center, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, first right, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, first left, shake hands after signing the agreement at the presidential palace in Kabul, Dec. 15, 2018. VOA

China, Pakistan and Afghanistan signed a trilateral understanding Saturday to enhance counterterrorism security cooperation, and collectively reiterated their call for the Taliban insurgency to join Afghan peace talks.

The foreign ministers of the three countries met in Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul, for a second round of talks, where they put the understanding into effect and also pledged to jointly work for regional connectivity, as well as economic development.

Beijing initiated the platform and hosted the inaugural meeting last year with a mission to help ease tensions and suspicions that have long plagued Afghanistan’s relationship with Pakistan. Critics say the tensions have hampered the effort to fight terrorism and promote regional peace, as well as economic connectivity.

 

Afghanistan, China, Pakistan
Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, right, shake hands at the end of a joint press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, Jan. 26, 2016. VOA

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a joint news conference after the meeting that his country will continue diplomatic efforts to help improve Kabul’s strained relations with Islamabad to further Beijing’s mission of regional peace and development.

 

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi noted terrorist entities — such as Islamic State (IS), the anti-China East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — threaten regional peace and could only be defeated through joint efforts.

Chinese officials worry that continued Afghan instability could encourage ETIM to foment problems in the western Xinjiang region, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We signed today an MoU [memorandum of understanding] on counterterrorism and security. This is a step forward and I think it will help us achieve what we collectively want to achieve,” Qureshi told reporters.

He emphasized that Pakistan is making efforts to promote a reconciliation process in Afghanistan, but he said it is up to Afghans themselves to decide how they want to achieve a political settlement to the war.

Pakistan, China
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi gestures during a briefing at foreign ministry in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. VOA

Afghan officials allege that Pakistan allows Taliban leaders to hide in the neighboring country and direct their violent insurgency from there. Kabul accuses Islamabad of not upholding its commitments made in bilateral and multilateral forums to prevent the Taliban from using Pakistani soil.

Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, while addressing the news conference, called on Islamabad to play its “important role” to facilitate Kabul’s peace talks with the Taliban. He stopped short, though, of reiterating accusations that Pakistan is behind the deadly insurgency in his country.

“There are groups in the region who have been getting support and who have been involved in this violence in Afghanistan. We need to see countries in the region, particularly in this case Pakistan, to support this initiative of peace and reconciliation and support us in reducing this growing violence and ultimately eliminate the violence throughout Afghanistan,” Rabbani said.

But his remarks drew a strong reaction from the Pakistani foreign minister, who urged both sides to stop pointing fingers at each other.

Pakistan, China
Ahsan Iqbal (L), Pakistan’s Minister of Planning and Development and Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan attend the launching ceremoney of CPEC long-term cooperation plan in Islamabad, Pakistan December 18, 2017. VOA

“We will have to be more positive. We will have to realize that by blaming each other we are going nowhere. We have spent decades, we have seen devastation, we have seen people killed and maimed on both sides of the border. Time has come to move on. Time has come to stop pointing fingers,” Qureshi lamented.

The Pakistani foreign minister said his delegation’s visit to Kabul and participation in the trilateral meeting are all aimed at building mutual political trust and facilitating the Afghan peace process.

The allegations and counter allegations at the news conference once again underscored a deeply mistrusted relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

China, a close ally of Pakistan, lately has deepened its economic and political ties with Afghanistan. It has been actively using its influence to bring the two uneasy South Asian neighbors closer. Beijing also maintains contacts with the Taliban and repeatedly has urged the insurgents to engage in peace talks to seek a solution to their concerns.

The Chinese and Pakistani foreign ministers on Saturday invited and encouraged the Afghan government to join their bilateral multi-billion-dollar infrastructure-building project that Beijing is carrying out in Pakistan as part of its global Belt and Road Initiative.

Imran Khan, Pakistan, China
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a ceremony in Kartarpur, Pakistan. VOA
Under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China has said it would help build roads and railways to connect it with Afghanistan. Qureshi urged his Afghan counterpart to send a delegation to Pakistan to examine projects in which they might want to take part.
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He said the regional connectivity will be crucial for building war-ravaged Afghanistan. Pakistan also believes linking Afghanistan to CPEC would give it better access to trade with Central Asian markets.

Foreign Minister Rabbani said a third meeting of the trilateral dialogue will take place in Islamabad next year. (VOA)