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Strategic issues dominate Sushma, Kerry dialogue

Defence, nuclear energy and cyber security figured prominently during the 2nd Indo-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD), co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman along with US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker here on Tuesday.

India and the US discussed terrorism emanating from Pakistan and other issues of strategic importance as well as of commercial interest with New Delhi asserting that there was a “scope to do a lot more” in the area of counter-terrorism. In her initial remarks, Swaraj stressed on the need to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism, saying “there is a scope to do a lot more.” She also stressed on the need to take care of “ aspirations and interests” of companies while enhancing bilateral commercial ties.

Asserting that India’s enhanced global role was in mutual interest, she said, “It is in this context, we look forward to continuing working closely with the US to secure our membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and permanent membership of the UN Security Council.” Swaraj said in view of the rapidly evolving regional and global situation, India looks forward to resuming the meeting of the Trilateral with Afghanistan; consultations on Africa and on multilateral issues within this year.

On his part, Kerry noted that the two countries had deepened their cooperation in defence, energy and cyber security. The US was looking forward to finalising a cyber framework that would help protect the two countries from new global cyber threats, he said.

“We look forward to finalising a cyber framework that will help protect us from new global cyber threats,” Kerry said at the meeting to review the progress on decisions taken last time and identify new areas of cooperation between the two nations. He further said the US would want its civil nuclear cooperation with India to take shape in setting up of reactors that deliver reliable electricity to Indian households. On the commercial front, ease of doing business and visa regimes were among other aspects of trade ties taken up. The two-way trade between the countries stood at about USD 109 billion last year.

“Economic policy is foreign policy and foreign policy is economic policy, both are joined at the hip,” Kerry said in his opening remarks at the second Strategic and Commercial Dialogue. The two countries have also deepened defence, counter-terrorism and cyber security in recent years, he said. 

Referring to the India-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement signed in 2008 that is seen as the high watermark in ties in recent years, Kerry said: “The US would want its civil nuclear cooperation with India to take shape in setting up of reactors.”
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