New Delhi: India and the United States should reinforce their partnership and strategise more comprehensively on safeguarding free and open international waterways, visiting US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said on June 26.
“Can America and India strategise more comprehensively on how to safeguard free and open seaways, all throughout the world,” he said speaking at ‘India Policy Programme’.
“India has a chance to contribute robustly in energy security. Can we work together to provide clean energy for all of the Indian people,” he added. Pompeo’s remarks come at a time when Beijing is increasing its influence in the South China Sea.
The Secretary of State also talked of opportunities before India and the US in the Indo-Pacific region and referred to China’s Belt and Road projects.
He said countries in this part of the world which have signed on the project have found that Beijing’s deals come not with strings attached, but with shackles, and they were looking to provide infrastructure, digital connectivity, and energy supplies to their people without relinquishing their sovereignty.
Pompeo, who had arrived on June 25 night, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning and discussed various aspects of the US-India bilateral relationship.
Earlier in the day, he also met External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar. Diplomatic sources here said that Jaishankar and Pompeo’s meeting was being seen as an opportunity for both the leaders to get to know each other better.
The two will set the stage for the meeting between Prime Minister Modi and the US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of G-20 Summit in Osaka, sources added.
Appreciating India’s efforts to maintain long-lasting peace in Afghanistan, the Secretary of State said, “The core of America’s Afghanistan talks is a resolve that terrorists can never again exploit Afghanistan for their evil purposes. We are intensely grateful for India’s advice and support to ensure that we are successful in this endeavour.”
Pompeo had made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan while en route to India on June 25. After meeting with President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul, Pompeo declared that after 18 years of war, “the hour has come for peace.”
“While we’ve made clear to the Taliban that we’re prepared to remove our forces, I want to be clear, we’ve not yet agreed on a timeline to do so,” The Washington Post quoted Pompeo as saying at a news conference in Kabul.
On June 26, the US military in Afghanistan informed that two of their servicemen were killed. The two deaths bring the total number of US service members killed in Afghanistan in 2019 to nine, CNN reported.
Pompeo said, “This is tragic,” adding, “My condolences certainly go out to them. I’m praying for them, for their families, and for all the soldiers that were around them. I think this drives home the need for us to be successful, right.”
“The mission set that we’ve undertaken in Afghanistan is a reconciliation to reduce the level of violence, to reduce the level of risk to Afghans, broadly, and the risk to American service members. So I think what you’ll see is a continued push by the United States to achieve the reconciliation and the reduction in risk that the President set out as the mission set for the State Department and for the United States Government,” he stressed.
Pompeo’s visit to New Delhi marks the third visit by a Secretary of State to India during Trump’s tenure. He is the first senior member of the Trump administration to visit India in the new term of the Modi government.
The press conference that was also addressed by the External Affairs minister focused on a wide range of issues including terrorism, defence cooperation, and religious tolerance.
Appreciation for the strong support by the Trump administration on India’s approach towards terrorism, Jaishankar said, “What we see is really zero tolerance for cross-border terrorism. We have, of course, Prime Minister’s initiative for a global conference on terrorism, and I’m sure that’s something the US would look at positively.”
Supporting Jaishankar’s words, Pompeo further noted, “India’s own experience with terrorism is very real; we know that.”
“As the blasts that ripped through the Sri Lankan churches last Easter Sunday have shown, terrorism is a constant in this region, and India’s ability to fight it should be second to none. Our teams will continue to work together to improve information sharing, intelligence sharing, and strengthen India’s ability to fight terrorism,” he added.
Also Watch: US Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo Meets PM Modi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar