By Prarthana Mitra
On the sidelines of the East Asia Summit on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared his concern over Pakistan’s “mainstreaming” of Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed when he met US Vice President Mike Pence in Singapore. The two leaders also discussed prospective cooperation in defence and energy, addressed the recent tightening of H1B visa norms and explored other avenues of a strategic global partnership.
The two leaders had a “productive discussion on all aspects of global strategic partnership, based on growing convergence of interests on regional and global issues,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.
On terrorism and Pakistan
A primary concern for India is terrorism, Modi told Pence with the expectation that both nations could build cooperation on counter-terrorism. Pence also recognised this as a challenge that would require them to fight together, and with the rest of the international community.
Speaking of Pakistan, Modi claimed that their nonchalance in dealing with homegrown terrorists should be a point of concern for the entire world. Modi reportedly also reminded the US VP that “in one way or another, all the traces or all the leads in global terror attacks ultimately lead to a single source, a single place of origin”.
In the context of the coming 10th anniversary of 26/11, the Prime Minister referred to “the mainstreaming of the people involved in Mumbai terror attacks in a political process, which had taken place in a recent election in Pakistan, should be a matter of serious concern not just to the two countries, that is, India and the US, but to the international community,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale informed the press.
The banned Lashkar-e-Taiba led by Hafiz Saeed who carries a $10 million bounty for the Mumbai terror attack fielded its candidates in Pakistan’s recent elections.
On economic cooperation
Modi urged Pence to develop India as a manufacturing base for defence equipment and a hub for exports, reminding him that American exports to India have grown by 50 per cent in the last two years that Donald Trump assumed office.
“Not only is India a substantial market, but because of the way we are placed regionally, we can become a hub for exports to the rest of the region,” Modi conveyed to the VP.
Pence agreed that India is a positive factor in regional and international relations, adding that the US looks forward to cooperating with India on political and economic issues, in response to Modi’s request to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“Spoke about our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific & reaffirmed our commitment to strengthen security and counter-terrorism cooperation and coordination,” Pence tweeted after his meeting with Modi. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue comprising India, US, Japan and Australia held their third meeting on Thursday on monitoring the Asia-Pacific waterways and thwarting China’s recent advancments in security.
On immigration laws and energy
Modi also reportedly voiced concern over the tightening of H1B visa norms, making a case for the talent and capacity that Indian workers bring, and how they added to the economic and social fabric of the US.
“There was a lot of discussion on energy. This is a new sector in India-US relations. We have begun importing oil and gas from US worth about $4 billion this year. We expressed our readiness to import more oil and gas from the US as a way of expanding our trade,” Gokhale told the press from Singapore.
The Modi government, as always, has gone above and beyond to stay on the good side of the US. This could be the start of a beneficial alliance for India and well as for the US, which is desperately looking for an emerging Asian power to take on China amidst a trade war, provided Donald Trump plays along and plays his cards right.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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