New York, March 12 (IANS) In the first high-level face-to-face India-US meeting after the Pulwama terrorist attack, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale discussed on Monday “the importance of bringing those responsible for the attack to justice and the urgency of Pakistan taking meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil”, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said.
At their meeting in Washington on Monday morning, Pompeo “affirmed that the US stands with the people and government of India in the fight against terrorism” Palladino said.
India’s Washington Embassy said in a statement, “Pompeo expressed his understanding of India’s concerns regarding cross-border terrorism. They agreed that Pakistan needs to take concerted action to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and to deny safe haven to all terrorist groups in its territory. They also agreed that those who support or abet terrorism in any form should be held accountable.”
Gokhale “conveyed appreciation to the US Government and to Secretary Pompeo personally for the firm support that India received from the US in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Pulwamaa, the statement added.
He also apprised Pompeo about the recent developments in the region, the embassy said.
Last month, the Pulwama terrorist attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed killed more than 45 Indian security personnel. India launched an air attack on terrorist camp in Pakistan and an air skirmish between the two neighbours followed.
Through the crisis, US President Donald Trump, Pompeo and US National Security Adviser John Bolton backed India’s opposition to cross-border terrorism.
Palladino said that Gokhale and Pompeo “noted the strength of our partnership and discussed ways to further enhance cooperation, including on counter-terrorism”.
Gokhale and Pompeo had wide-ranging talks during which they “discussed our complementary visions for the Indo-Pacific, U.S.-India defence cooperation, and the growing U.S.-India economic partnership, including joint efforts to expand bilateral trade in a balanced and reciprocal manner”, he said.
Responding to Pompeo’s reference to bilateral trade matters, Gokhale “underscored the significant reduction in trade deficit in the last three years and conveyed India’s willingness to remain engaged with the US for a meaningful and mutually acceptable package on trade issues” the embassy said.
The Gokhale-Pompeo meeting took place against the backdrop of President Donald Trump ending tariff concessions worth $5.6 billion top India last week under the General Scheme of Preferences citing what he called New Delhi’s failure to provide “equitable and reasonable access” for US to its markets.
The embassy said that Afghanistan also figured in their talks.
At the height of the tensions between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Indian MiG-21 being shot down and Indian pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, captured by Pakistan, Pompeo had spoken to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and also to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in an effort to tamp down the rising hostility.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected])