US and In­dia bol­ster ties, warn Pak­istan

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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. –

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