Terming the inaugural 2+2 Dialogue between India and the United States on Thursday as an important step in the bilateral relationship, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that while the two sides have agreed to work together in various spheres, India expects a non-discriminatory and predictable approach from the US on the H1B visa regime.
While saying that she has sought US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo's support to nurture people-to-people links, Swaraj said, "Specifically, I conveyed our expectation for a non-discriminatory and predictable approach to the H1B visa regime, given its high impact on innovation, competitiveness and people-to-people partnership, all of which are a vital source of strength for our relationship."
Swaraj added that she and Secretary Pompeo have decided to remain in touch regularly through the new hotline that will be established soon.
In her media statement after the talks, Swaraj said the meeting has helped shared efforts of both sides to promote a whole-of-government approach for strategic priorities. "The recent decision by the US to put India in the list of countries eligible for Strategic Trade Authorization Tier-I (STA-1) License Exemption reflects India's robust and responsible export control policies. In our meeting today, we also agreed to work together to secure India's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group at the earliest," the EAM said.
Terming rapidly growing trade and investment ties as an important element of the strategic partnership between the two countries, Swaraj added that faster growth in these areas and deeper people-to-people connections are a force for the strategic partnership.
"Rapidly growing economies are giving rise to new opportunities and a basis for more intense economic engagement, which supports the development of manufacturing, promotes knowledge and innovation, creates jobs and provides critical resources for growth. The United States is emerging as a supplier of energy to India. We recognised and supported efforts made by the two sides to address trade-related issues on both sides and to make trade balanced and mutually beneficial," Swaraj said.
Swaraj added that she has sought Secretary Pompeo's support to nurture people-to-people links. "Specifically, I conveyed our expectation for a non-discriminatory and predictable approach to the H1B visa regime, given its high impact on innovation, competitiveness and people-to-people partnership, all of which are a vital source of strength for our relationship," Swaraj said.
The minister said that during the discussion of the four ministers at the 2+2 Dialogue, there was a growing convergence of views on the Indo-Pacific. "Our respective approaches towards this concept have been outlined by our leaders- by President Trump at the APEC meeting last year and by Prime Minister Modi at the Shangri-La Dialogue this summer. We see the Indo-Pacific as a free, open and inclusive concept, with ASEAN centrality at the core and defined by a common rules-based order that both our countries are pursuing," she said.
While welcoming the US' interest in expanding its economic footprint in the region, Swaraj said that the two countries agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation as well as cooperation with other partners in the region to achieve common goals in connectivity and infrastructure.
"Our counter-terrorism cooperation has acquired a new qualitative edge and purpose. We recognised the value of the Terrorists Designations Dialogue established last year as well as other mechanisms to promote cooperation in counter-terrorism and homeland security. We have agreed to deepen our cooperation in international forums like the United Nations and the Financial Action Task Force. We welcomed the recent designations of Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists by the United States. They underscore the international community's scrutiny over the threat of terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which has affected India and the United States alike. In the 10th anniversary of the 26/11 attacks, we recognised the importance of justice and retribution for the masterminds behind this terrorist attack," Swaraj said.
The minister mentioned discussions on the situation in South Asia and expressed India's support to President Trump's South Asia Policy. "His call for Pakistan to stop its policy of supporting cross-border terrorism finds resonance with us. We discussed the ongoing efforts by India and the United States in promoting an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan government-controlled reconciliation process, that brings together all ethnic groups and political formation in the country," Swaraj said while adding that the two sides also had "productive exchange" on other regional issues.