Terror, climate and Indo-Pacific: India, US set agenda for ties under Joe Biden

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President Joe Biden (ANI)

Blinken says the US is committed to securing justice for Daniel Pearl, the American journalist who was abducted and killed in Pakistan 

Our Bureau
New Delhi  

India will closely work with the United States on combating the scourge of terrorism, maritime security, cybersecurity, and peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region under President Joe Biden’s administration, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday.

MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that the two countries will continue to remain engaged at all levels to work together to further strengthen the India-US comprehensive global strategic partnership. “PM had congratulated then-President-elect Biden on his election on November 8. They had a telephone call on November 17 where both leaders exchanged views on working together on shared priorities and global challenges,” said Srivastava at a press briefing on the question of US-India ties in the Biden era.

Srivastava recalled how Prime Minister Modi held a telephone conversation with Biden on November 17 where they affirmed their interest in working together including tackling climate change.

Talking about the Paris Climate agreement, the MEA spokesperson said: “During the telephone call between PM Narendra Modi and President Biden on November 17, the leaders had discussed their priorities which included tackling climate change. So, we look forward to working with the US administration on this issue.”

The United States under the Trump administration had abandoned the agreement late last year.

The main issue is the US considers Pakistan a “major non-NATO ally,” a status bestowed upon only seventeen countries that facilitate military trade and cooperation. However, in reality, Pakistan has not acted as an ally. The listing of Pakistan in Financial Action Task Force (FATF) ‘Grey List’ clearly indicates the ambiguous policies of Islamabad and how they are checking terror funding and money laundering, reported an American bimonthly magazine, The National Interest.

It is against this backdrop that new US president Joe Biden, must now confront the Pakistan test, wrote Michael Rubin in an opinion piece in The National Interest. Within weeks, Biden will have to decide on Pakistan when FATF meets to address Pakistan’s continued terror problem. Further, Pakistani authorities are now utilizing their growing diplomatic embrace with China in order to protect themselves from FATF blacklisting.

With China’s backing, Pakistan seeks to appease the FATF with the bare minimum. Prime Minister Imran Khan finds it easier to sell out his country’s sovereignty to China than to make basic reforms demanded by the FATF to remain off the blacklist, wrote Rubin. 

In an important development, slamming the Pakistani court’s decision to acquit journalist Daniel Pearl’s killer Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, State Secretary Antony Blinken said that Washington is ready to prosecute Sheikh in the United States for his horrific crimes against an American citizen.

“We expect the Pakistani government to expeditiously review its legal options to ensure justice is served. We take note of the Attorney General’s statement that he intends to seek review and recall of the decision. We are also prepared to prosecute Sheikh in the United States for his horrific crimes against an American citizen,” US State Department release quoted Blinken. “Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh was indicted in the United States in 2002 for hostage-taking and conspiracy to commit hostage-taking, resulting in the murder of Pearl, the South Asia Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal, as well as the 1994 kidnapping of another United States citizen in India,” the statement added.

Blinken further said that the US is committed to securing justice for Daniel Pearl’s family and holding terrorists accountable.

On Friday, Antony Blinken on Friday spoke with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to reaffirm the growing US-India partnership and underscored the importance of working together to expand regional cooperation, including through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price in a release said that both the leaders discussed issues including COVID-19 vaccination efforts, regional developments, and other bilateral matters. “Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar to reaffirm the growing US-India partnership and discuss issues of mutual concern, including COVID-19 vaccination efforts, regional developments, and next steps in expanding bilateral ties,” the release said.

Blinken underscored India’s role as a preeminent US partner in the Indo-Pacific and the importance of working together to expand regional cooperation, including through the Quad. “The Secretary underscored India’s role as a preeminent U.S. partner in the Indo-Pacific and the importance of working together to expand regional cooperation, including through the Quad. Both agreed to coordinate closely on global developments and look forward to meeting in person at the earliest opportunity,” the release said.

The Quad will be an important factor in the Indo-Pacific region (ANI Photo)

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