US and India bolster ties, warn Pakistan
THE United States and India have urged Pakistan to do more to counter extremist groups operating from its soil as the world’s two largest democracies announced measures to strengthen security and energy ties.
Speaking on a visit to New Delhi, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that ties once clouded by suspicion had progressed “amazingly” in the past two years and echoed President Barack Obama’s description of their relationship as “the defining partnership of the 21st century”.
India and the United States have a common goal in creating a counterbalance to the rise of China and hold regular top-level dialogue in Delhi and Washington under a formal strategic partnership.
But a flare-up in violence in Kashmir meant that India’s archrival Pakistan featured prominently in talks between Mr Kerry and his counterpart, Sushma Swaraj.
After Foreign Minister Swaraj reiterated long-running accusations that Pakistan was “providing safe havens to terror groups”, Mr Kerry also urged Islamabad to do more to combat extremists operating from its territory.
He said it was vital Islamabad moved to “deprive any group of sanctuary”, highlighting the threat posed by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based Kashmiri separatist group behind a string of anti-Indian attacks.
“We will not and we cannot make distinctions between good and bad terrorists ... Terrorism is terrorism,” Mr Kerry said at a press conference alongside Ms Swaraj on August 30.
India has accused Pakistan of stoking a new bout of unrest in Kashmir, the troubled Himalayan region which has been divided between the two countries since independence in 1947 and is claimed in full by both.
Around 70 civilians have been killed since the beginning of last month in the aftermath of the Indian army’s killing of a charismatic young separatist leader and a curfew remains in place in many parts of Kashmir.
Mr Kerry also said there had been an agreement “to move forward” on long-standing plans for six nuclear reactors which he said would provide electricity to tens of millions of people, without giving more details.
The deal involving US giant Westinghouse has been held up in the past by concerns over an Indian law that would make US companies liable for accidents at plants they helped build.
The start of Mr Kerry’s two-day visit came only hours after the two sides signed an agreement in Washington that allows access to each other’s military bases for repairs and resupplies.
Washington has increasingly turned its focus to Asia as it tries to counter China’s growing clout in the South China Sea, and is eager for India to play a greater role in a network of defence alliances. –