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Supporting India's move to conduct surgical strikes against terrorist groups in PoK, a group of influential American policy makers and former defence officials today said that strengthening ties with India should be top priority for the current and next administration to combat Islamic extremism. "As the United States continues its 'rebalance' to the Indo-Pacific, growing the strategic, economic, and military partnership between Washington and Delhi is of paramount importance," the group said in an open letter to the Trump, Clinton Campaigns and the Obama Administration. "Enhancing defence cooperation between the world's two largest democracies and standing together against challenges from Islamic extremism to China's growing assertiveness, should be high on the agenda of the next American President," said the letter. Initiated by Puneet Ahluwalia, an advisor to the Trump Campaign on Asia Pacific issues, and Alexander Gray, a former senior advisor in the Congress, the open letter calls upon the Obama Administration, and both presidential nominees, to review all US foreign aid in the region to ensure that American taxpayer dollars are not being used to fund attacks on American citizens and interests abroad and its democratic partners in the region. "As individuals with extensive experience in Congress, the Executive Branch, the uniformed military, and academia, we write to express our solidarity with the people of India as they seek to defend their country and their values from violent Islamism," it said. "With a recent escalation in attacks against Indian government and civilian targets, Delhi is taking proactive steps to defend its sovereignty and citizens from a violent ideology anathema to our shared democratic values," the letter said. "As strong supporters of the US-India partnership, we call upon the Obama Administration to stand shoulder to shoulder with India as it seeks to uphold our shared values against the common enemy of radical Islamism," it said. Noting that it is an extremely dangerous world, the letter said the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has enhanced the danger that localised conflicts of the past could produce more catastrophic global consequences today.
The US cannot stand silent as such dangers go unattended. Other signatories to the letter are Jack David, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction & Negotiations Policy; Professor June Teufel Dreyer, former Commissioner, US-China Economic & Security Review Commission; and Lt Gen (rtd) Wallace C Gregson, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian & Pacific Security Affairs. The letter was also signed by Donald P Loren, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence; Michael Pillsbury, former Assistant Under Secretary of Defence for Policy; Herman Pirchner, president, American Foreign Policy Counciland Jeff M Smith, director of Asian Security Programs, American Foreign Policy Council.
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