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Committed to work for India’s NSG tag: US envoy

| | New Delhi

While underlining that the United States has ‘a very ambitious agenda’ for the US-India partnership, Ambassador Kenneth Juster on Thursday said his country is working closely with other nations to secure India’s membership to the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

During his first speech ever since taking over as the new envoy, at Carnegie-India’s special event, Juster also said the US is partnering with India on counter terrorism and that President Donald Trump and other US leaders have been clear that they will not tolerate cross-border terrorism or terrorist safe havens anywhere. He added that the US will also support India in promoting security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

The statement comes days after the US suspended its aid to Pakistan demanding credible action on certain terror groups active in the region. “We feel Pakistan has not done enough for the stability of Afghanistan. We will not tolerate any kind of safe havens and cross-border terrorism. We remain in close contact with India on this issue,” Juster said while replying to questions.

“Each of our countries has suffered horrific terrorist attacks and continues to be targeted. We have a strong mutual interest in eliminating this threat to our societies. President Trump and other US leaders have been clear that we will not tolerate cross-border terrorism or terrorist safe havens anywhere. As part of this effort, last month we launched the first-ever US-India Counterterrorism Designations Dialogue. We need to continue to enhance the sharing of information, designations of terrorists, combating of financial crimes and networks, and disruption and dismantling of terrorist camps and operations,  both regionally and globally,” Juster said.

Talking about India’s NSG aspirations, the envoy said India is celebrating its membership in two of the four multilateral export control regimes — the Wassenaar Arrangement on dual-use items, which India just joined, and the Missile Technology Control Regime —  more might be coming. “We also expect in the very near future India to join the Australia Group on chemical and biological weapons. And we are working closely with India and our international partners to secure India’s membership in the NSG,” Juster said while adding the US, at the same time, has gone from a restrictive policy regarding the export of dual-use items to India to a much more liberal one.

Juster’s statement comes at a time when India will be once again pursuing its membership for the NSG during the meeting of the group this summer. China is the only country that is opposed to India’s membership citing signing of Non-Proliferation Treaty as one of the important clauses. India is not a signatory to NPT. China wants that in case the NPT clause is waived off for India then Pakistan should also be allowed to be a member of the NSG. However, most of the countries in the NSG have made it clear that India and Pakistan hold different reputations and the two should not be clubbed together. India in 2008 got a waiver from NSG following strong efforts from the US. Through its sustained efforts, the US believes that India may finally get a seat in the NSG.

Talking about the Indo-Pacific region, the envoy said that the US National Security Strategy recognises India as a leading power in region and beyond. “The longstanding commitment of the US to a free, secure, and open Indo-Pacific has underpinned the stability and remarkable economic rise of this region - to the benefit of all of us. The US will remain committed to this region - as we are to the rules-based international order - because our future is inextricably linked to it. We welcome India’s leadership with us in this venture - as partners bolstered by conviction and working with like-minded nations on a regional architecture to ensure that the Indo-Pacific - in the words of Secretary of State Tillerson - is increasingly a place of peace, stability, and growing prosperity, rather than one of disorder, conflict, and predatory economic policy,” Juster said.

Mentioning defence and military cooperation as an important pillar of India-US Strategic Partnership, Juster listed various activities the two countries are engaged in bilaterally and pointed that it is now time to make sure that the strategic partnership is a durable partnership. He pointed out that in little more than a decade, the US defence trade with India has expanded from virtually nothing to over 15 billion dollars, and includes sales of some of America’s most advanced military equipment. “A prominent example of this commitment was the Trump Administration’s decision last June to approve the sale of the Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial System, positioning India to be our first non-NATO partner or treaty ally to acquire this advanced platform,” Juster said.

On the economic and commercial relations, Juster said that India can provide an alternative to the US companies that downgrading their operations in China and looking alternative markets. He felt that India can seize the strategic opportunity -- through trade and investment -- to become an alternative hub for US business in the Indo-Pacific region.



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