January 20, 2018

USA won't tolerate terror safe havens, says envoy

13 January 2018, 01:28 | Taylor George

Kenneth I. Juster | @USAndIndia

Kenneth I. Juster

The US will not tolerate cross-border terrorism or terrorist safe havens anywhere, its newly- appointed Ambassador Kenneth Juster said on Thursday, asserting that $ 2 billion military aid to Pakistan was suspended as America felt "they have not done as much as they could in eliminating terror sanctuaries" there.

"India can seize the strategic opportunity - through trade and investment - to become an alternative hub for USA business in the Indo-Pacific region", he said, adding that Trump's poll slogan "America First" and the Centre's flagship initiative "Make in India" are not incompatible. "And we are working closely with India and our worldwide partners to secure India's membership in the NSG", Juster said while adding the United States, at the same time, has gone from a restrictive policy regarding the export of dual-use items to India to a much more liberal one. "Accordingly, some companies are downgrading their operations there, while others are looking with great interest at alternative markets". "Of course, given the size of our respective markets, there is still a plenty of room to expand the flow of goods and services in both directions and, in the process, for trade to become more reciprocal", he said. The US envoy, however, expressed concerns about persistent trade deficits, including the one the US has with India. "And we want to work with India to expeditiously resolve trade and investment disputes".

Referring to defence ties Juster said, "Perhaps in the next year we can announce some major agreements - fighter jets, advanced helicopters, unmanned ground vehicles and intelligence exchange".

"The US is a country of immigrants and that's what helped drive our economy and our growth and made us what we are".

Juster said shared values and "common interests" inform the vision of New Delhi and Washington for the strategically significant Indo-Pacific region, in which the USA considers India to be a "leading power".

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Mr Juster said the United States would not tolerate any cross-border terrorism or safe havens, adding that security assistance had been suspended by the U.S. to Pakistan as they (Pakistan) were not doing enough to curb terror.

"We want to promote respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, guarantee freedom of navigation overflight and commerce and other lawful uses of the sea, ensure territorial and maritime disputes are resolved peacefully consistent with worldwide laws", he added.

Praising India for its development assistance to Afghanistan, Mr Juster said, "Pakistan is also important to the situation in Afghanistan".

When asked about Sino-US ties, Juster noted, "We are interested in a constructive relationship".

"I don't think we are going to get stability and security in Afghanistan if Pakistan does not contribute positively to that. But we also want to make it clear that if they are going to be engaged in certain predatory economic behaviour or other activities than there's an alternative set of principles that other countries of the region are going to follow", he said.

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