WASHINGTON: In a strong message, the US has asked Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used for planning attacks in India and to go after all terror groups operating from its soil, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said terrorism is being "incubated in India's neighbourhood".
"This is one of the steps that the US is encouraging Pakistan to do for the improvement of its relations with India," a State Department spokesperson said.
"We believe that Pakistan and India stand to benefit from practical cooperation and encourage direct dialogue aimed at increasing cooperation and reducing tensions," Mark Toner told reporters yesterday.
"And that includes steps by Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to plan attacks in India and that Pakistan takes steps to address or to go after, I think, all the terrorist groups that are currently using its territory."
"That continues to be an area of collaboration and cooperation that we pursue with Pakistan is its counter- terrorism operations," he said in response to a question.
Responding to a question, Toner said Pakistan was one of the issues discussed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
"Certainly that was one of the discussions, frankly, that was raised at the – or one of the issues, frankly, that was raised in discussions with Prime Minister Modi. They talked about a wide range of regional issues, in fact," he said.
Toner also said the US's bilateral relations with India and Pakistan are separate and stand on their own merits.
"Our bilateral relations with India and Pakistan are separate and stand on their own merits, and so I don't think we – it's not prudent for us to view our security cooperation in the region in kind of a zero-sum game – or zero-sum terms, rather.
"I think it's important for the countries of the region that they all have constructive security relationships with each other. And that's Pakistan, that's India, and it's also Afghanistan," Toner said.
In his address to the joint sitting of US Congress here on Thursday, Modi had said terrorism has to be fought with "one voice".
Underscoring that both India and the US share the vision of peace and prosperity of the world, the Prime Minister said "globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat" and it must be fought at many levels" as the traditional tools of military, intelligence or diplomacy alone would not be able to win defeat it.
"In the territory stretching from West of India's border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Laskhar-e-Taiba, to Taliban to ISIS. But, it's philosophy is common: of hate, murder and violence," Modi said.
"Although its shadow is spreading across the world, itis incubated in India's neighbourhood," he said an apparent reference to Pakistan.
He said those who believe in humanity must come together to fight against terrorism as one and speak against this menace in one voice.