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India seeks greater cooperation with US in terrorism, defence

Posted on Feb 22, 11:11AM | IANS

By Arun Kumar, Washington, Feb 22 : India Thursday suggested greater cooperation with the US in seven key areas ranging from terrorism, defence and enhanced trade to support in multilateral fora as they take their strategic partnership forward.

"From our perspective, closer and more effective cooperation between us on terrorism is critical," said Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai as he began consultations with his American counterparts on a range of bilateral and regional issues.

"Obviously, this has an impact on our bilateral and trilateral consultations on Afghanistan and the region," he said in an address on "A 21st Century India-United States Partnership for Peace, Prosperity and Progress" at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Noting that the "relationship between us must now stand squarely on its own merits, Mathai said: "As you re-calibrate your presence in Afghanistan, we hope that the transformation of our relationship can accelerate, based on the unique merits of what each side brings to the table."

Suggesting that defence cooperation between the two countries should be "part of the new normal," Mathai said: "We can do so by finding simple process solutions to enable your defence companies to make value-for-money bids to meet our defence."

As both countries need significant investment in industry and manufacture and the jobs that they create, "we must find ways to work more closely together in this context", he said.

"We cannot allow the differences we have in trade in goods or movement of services to dominate the discourse," Mathai said.

"At the same time, we have to create forums to discuss these issues openly and with a forward-looking approach."

Energy and education too are strategic openings for the US to invest in the future of India, he said.

Mathai and his team of officials are having day-long consultation with top American officials including a meeting with the new Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)