Ahead of Modi visit, India, US talk terrorism cooperation

Washington, March 30 (IANS) Ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit here, the National Security Advisors of the US and India have discussed counter-terrorism cooperation, including against Pakistan-based groups Lashkar-e-Taeba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, responsible for the Mumbai and Pathankot terror attacks.

The issue came up for discussion at a meeting on Tuesday between India’s Ajit Doval and US NSA Susan E. Rice at the White House, according to a statement by National Security Council Spokesperson Ned Price.

The two also “exchanged views on the terrorist threat posed by ISIL in the region and the importance of combating the ideology that fuels such groups,” he said.

“Additionally, they exchanged views on the prospects for commercial progress this year under US-India civil nuclear cooperation,” Price said.

Rice reiterated US support for India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and Missile Technology Control Regime, he said.

Meeting in the shadow of the Brussels and Lahore terror attacks, leaders from 50 nations including Prime Minister Narendra Modi are set to discuss how to reduce the threat posed by nuclear terrorism.

The 4th and last Nuclear Security Summit here under President Barack Obama’s watch on March 31 and April 1 caps off a six-year-long effort to prevent terrorists and other non-state actors from gaining access to nuclear materials and technologies.

A senior administration official said here on Tuesday that the US looked at Modi’s presence “as a chance to highlight steps that India has taken in its own nuclear security to go beyond, perhaps, some of the activities that it has done before”.

“We really would like to see an even deeper bilateral cooperation with India proceed going forward out of the summit,” Laura Holgate, special assistant to the US president, told foreign media in a preview of the summit.

“So I hope that that will be something that we can work on more closely going forward,” said the official who also serves as senior director for weapons of mass destruction terrorism and threat reduction at the National Security Council.

Modi, who is making his third visit to the US in two years reflecting the transformation in India-US ties, is expected to have a separate bilateral meeting with Obama on the sidelines of the summit.

He was also expected to meet with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, but the latter cancelled his Washington visit in the wake of the Lahore attack.

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

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