On terror & Pak, meeting of minds with US: Sushma Swaraj

challenge, and in fairness, in recent weeks and months, they have been moving much more authoritatively in the western part of their country on some groups and the Haqqani network,” he said.

Addressing the press with Kerry who is in New Delhi for the second Indo-US strategic and commercial dialogue and will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday, Swaraj said: “I am happy to note that there was a meeting of minds on this issue (of terrorism). I briefed Secretary Kerry on the continuing problem of cross-border terrorism that India and the larger region face from Pakistan.”

“We both agreed that nations must not maintain double standards, such as the categorisation of good and bad terrorists, nor must they act as sanctuaries and safe havens for terrorist organisations. We reaffirmed the urgent necessity for Pakistan to dismantle safe havens for terrorists and criminal networks including Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and D Company,” she said.

Kerry said, “I have recently spoken to the (Pakistan) Prime Minister (Nawaz Sharif) and General Raheel Sharif regarding the need for Pakistan to deprive any group sanctuaries… It is well known that the Haqqani network and others operated out of the western part of the country. LeT, we all know and we all spoke out against, had an impact on India, directly.”

Asked about the escalating tension between India and Pakistan and if dialogue between the two sides would resume, Swaraj reiterated the Indian position that “terror and talks will not go hand in hand”.

She said India remains ready for talks with Pakistan but there are legitimate expectations that it will act against terror groups which have carried out attacks against India, including at Pathankot airbase. “And the talks can only resume if these expectations are met,” she said.

“Secretary Kerry and I also agreed on the need for Pakistan to do more to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot terrorist attacks to justice quickly.”

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Kerry echoed her: “Let me be clear, the United States continues to support all efforts to bring perpetrators of Mumbai and Pathankot attacks to justice… We stand fully behind the Indian demand that there be justice… We have had conversation with all members of the region frankly about the efforts they need to take to curb terrorism that comes out of their countries. That is true of everybody. Anywhere in the world. I think it is crystal clear that US and India are exactly in similar mind with respect to the issue of terror and the need to not only prevent it but to bring those to justice who perpetrate it.”

The two countries also agreed to boost counter-terrorism cooperation by enhancing intelligence sharing, screening of terrorists, exchange of information on known or suspected terrorists.

They also agreed to continue to work closely to get terrorist entities listed by the UN system, by coordinating the approach to the UN 1267 Committee. This assumes significance in the light of Indian efforts to get Masood Azhar designated as an international terrorist — a move being blocked by Beijing on technical grounds.

India and the US also agreed to resume a three-way dialogue with Afghanistan next month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. The India-US-Afghanistan trilateral talks started in 2012, took place a second time in 2013 but were not held in 2014 and 2015.

Asked if close consultation with India on Afghanistan under the trilateral framework may result in Pakistan feeling isolated, Kerry said US appreciates India’s involvement in the war-torn country and “Pakistan will not feel isolated but encouraged” and work out a roadmap for itself in that country.

Swaraj thanked Kerry for his reiteration of continued US support to India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and permanent membership of the UN Security Council. “We both agreed that India’s enhanced global role is in mutual interest,” she said.

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