Modi, Pence discuss Def, trade & cooperation in Indo-Pacific

Singapore: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US Vice President Mike Pence held talks on Wednesday on a wide range of bilateral and global issues of mutual interests including defence and trade cooperation, ways to counter terrorism and the need for maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The two leaders had "productive discussion on all aspects of global strategic partnership based on growing convergence of interests on regional and global issues" on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit here, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.

"Spoke about our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific & reaffirmed our

commitment to strengthen security and counterterrorism cooperation and coordination," Pence tweeted after his meeting with Modi. In a readout, Pence's office said he encouraged "free, fair, and reciprocal trade with India."

Briefing the reporters, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale later said it was a "very good" meeting. "There was a sense of convergence both on bilateral issues and on global issues and we look forward to taking the relationship now in the coming months and in 2019," he said.

There was some discussion on the issue of terrorism. Pence referred to the upcoming 10th anniversary of the deadly Mumbai terror attack on November 26 and hailed cooperation between the two sides on counter terrorism, Gokhale said.

Modi thanked Pence and reminded him that in one way or another all the traces and all the leads in the global terror attacks ultimately leads to a "single source and single place of origin", without naming any country or organisation.

"He (Modi) did point out that the mainstreaming of people involved in the Mumbai attacks in a political process which has taken place in the recent elections in Pakistan should be a matter of serious concern not just to the two countries - India and US - but to international community," Gokhale said, referring to the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's party contesting the July 25 elections in Pakistan.

"There was some good understanding of the areas of how we move forward in building cooperation on counter terrorism and both countries recognised that this is a challenge which we have to fight together and to fight along with the rest of the international community," Gokhale said.

On bilateral issues, the two sides had brief discussions on trade related matters.

"We agreed that in a new relationship we are building with the US where trade is expanding we need to find ways in which we can help that process to take place," he said.

Prime Minister Modi said that in the last two years - since President Donald Trump has assumed office - American exports to India have grown by 50 per cent and it is perhaps one of the countries, perhaps the only one, of the top 10 countries with which the US has a trade deficit where the deficit has actually reduced last year and is on course to further reduce this year, Gokhale said. pti

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