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Gokhale evoked firm US resolve to stand against terrorism

IANS  |  New York 

Meeting US leaders in the wake of the Pulwama suicide attack and the regional tensions arising from it, India's has evoked Washington's firm resolve to stand "shoulder-to-shoulder" with in fighting terrorism.

As they sought to advance India-US strategic partnership, terrorism was a focus of the talks he had with Michael Pompeo, and other administration officials and Congressional leaders during his three-day visit to that ended on Wednesday.

Bolton tweeted after their Wednesday meeting: "The US stands shoulder-to-shoulder with in the fight against terrorism."

Giving the same message, Pompeo spoke of "the importance of bringing those responsible for the attack to justice and the urgency of taking meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil," a State Department said.

The strategic partnership is being built around the "shared vision" for the Indo-Pacific region, as Bolton put it.

wants to play a major role in the region where he sees the two countries as bulwarks of democracy against China's dominance.

has cautiously embraced the role without making it appear a direct challenge to and the US have also stepped up multilateral cooperation with the other two major democracies in the region, and

The US and India affirmed "the importance of joint leadership to strengthen the rules-based order" in the region and acting "in conjunction with other Indo-Pacific partners", said a joint statement issued after the consultations he held with David Hale, the Under for Political Affairs.

After meeting Gokhale, Brad Sherman, the of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Asia, said that they discussed US' role in India-relations.

During the India-crisis that followed the February 14 Pulwama attack by the Pakistan-based (JeM) terror group, Pompeo, who was in for the US-summit, worked the phones with and and Pakistan's in an effort to tamp down the rising hostility.

He pressured to release Indian Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistan after his was shot down in an air skirmish to cool the tenions.

Sensing that Pakistan's role in supporting terrorism would figure in Gokhale's meetings, Qureshi called on Bolton on Monday and assured him that "Pakistan would deal firmly with all terrorists and will continue steps to de-escalate tensions with India".

Pompeo also sent a clear signal to against blocking UN sanctions against JeM He said that such an action would go against the Washington-Bejing mutual interest of ensuring regional stability.

Two areas of discordance between India and the US also emerged during the meetings.

Preoccupied with trade imbalances, Trump recently ended some trade preferences for India under the System of Preferences and lashed out at tariffs and restrictions on American imports to

Pompeo, according to his spokesperson, called for "joint efforts to expand bilateral trade in a balanced and reciprocal manner".

In response, 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 said.

Another was Pompeo's request to Gokhale for joining the boycott of Venezuelan to pressure to step down in favour of backed by India is a major buyer of from the South American nation and shows no signs of ending the purchases.

was an area of trade and economy in which there was progress.

A joint statement issued after the Ninth India-US Strategic Security Dialogue led by Gokhale and Andrea Thompson, the Under for Arms Control and International Security, breathed new life into plans for set up six nuclear power plants in India.

"They committed to strengthen bilateral security and civil nuclear cooperation, including the establishment of six US nuclear power plants in India," it said.

Even though the India-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement is more than 10 years old, the power plants it envisaged have yet to take shape as they first had legal hurdles and then the American company ran into financial difficulties that may now have been resolved.

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First Published: Thu, March 14 2019. 10:20 IST