WELLINGTON: The US today said it is working with India to improve counter-terrorism cooperation as it stressed on the need for joint and concerted efforts to disrupt and degrade entities such as LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), 'D-Company' and the Haqqani Network.
Noting that US and India have committed to making counter-terrorism cooperation a key component of bilateral ties, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said that in recent years his country has led a global coalition to "degrade, disrupt and dismantle" terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIL.
"President Obama and Prime Minister Modi have also called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and stopping their cross-border movement," he said, speaking at the Defence Services Staff College here.
At the Defence Staff Service College, Verma held an interaction with faculty and students on 'Emerging Indo-US Strategic Ties'. Accompanied by US Counsul General in Chennai Phillip Minh and US Air Attache Robert Capozella, the Ambassador also met two student officers from US Army and Navy who are undergoing the staff course at DSSC.
"Our leaders have also affirmed the need for joint and concerted efforts to disrupt and degrade entities such as LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), D Company and the Haqqani Network, and agreed to continue ongoing efforts through the Homeland Security Dialogue and the US-India Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism," he said.
His comments came just two days after Pakistan called off NSA-level talks with India. India had prepared an extensive dossier on underworld don Dawood Ibrahim who is believed to be based in Karachi under the patronage of ISI.
Talking on the subject 'Growing US-India defence cooperation', he said both countries are also working on efforts to improve cooperation on UN terrorist designations and expand the sharing of information on known or suspected terrorists "no matter where they may be located".
"Our counter-terrorism cooperation can become a model for the region and potentially for the world, and it is another factor that makes me genuinely optimistic about our future defence and security partnership together," he said.
Verma stressed that US and India face a formidable set of international challenges, from the freedom of access to shared maritime and air routes, humanitarian crises in an increasingly interconnected world, and the continuing threat from non-state actors and extremist groups.
He made it clear that bilateral defence cooperation is not based on a limited set of strategic priorities, nor is it directed toward a particular country. Rather, it is rooted in our shared values.
He said that in today's dynamic and globally connected world, a deeper understanding of the maritime domain and the readiness to protect critical trade routes has never been more important.
Verma said that through the Joint Working Group for Aircraft Carrier Technology, both countries have also forged a path that seeks to cooperatively improve India's burgeoning aircraft carrier development programme and develop its carrier aviation expertise.
"This programme is one of the success stories borne of our Defence Technology and Trade Initiative, and is also symbolic of how far US–India defence cooperation has advanced as it wasn't too long ago that the American aircraft carrier was a symbol that divided the US from India," he said.
"Today it is a topic of cooperation that has brought us closer together," the US envoy underlined.
He said that both countries are also working to enhance cooperation and security of the skies.
"We recently did an exchange on air defence where our two Air Forces brought together their experts to share best practices and ideas on defending critical areas like the skies over our national capitals," he said, adding that it is through training and exercising together that one can practice these and other shared tactics, to hone skills.
The Indian Air Force will be participating in Red Flag air exercise next April, an event that Indian Air Force is taking part in after a six-year hiatus.
"However, it is not just well trained pilots and well- executed tactics and procedures that will ensure the security of the skies. To both our Air Forces advanced technology is a critical component, which is why under the DTTI we have set up the Jet Engine Technology Joint Working Group, where we will jointly be exploring and sharing the latest technology on jet engines and exploring possible co-production and co-development opportunities together," he said.