Nearly two months after an international court ruled against China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, India and the US today called for “utmost respect” for global law, maintaining that there must be “unimpeded lawful commerce” throughout the disputed region.
The two countries, which held their annual Strategic and Commercial Dialogue yesterday, also said they will “redouble” efforts towards India’s early entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which was opposed by China. The US urged the NSG member countries to support India’s bid for their “common interest”.
In a joint statement issued today summerising outcome of Tuesday’s meeting, the two strategic partners condemned terrorism in all its forms and reaffirmed their commitment to dismantle safe havens for terrorist and criminal networks such as IS terror outfit, Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e- Mohammad, D Company and its affiliates, and also the Haqqani Network.
“The sides also called on Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot terrorist attacks to justice. The sides will continue to review and consider other organizations that warrant terrorist designations including those that engage in cross-border terrorism,” according to the joint statement
About South China dispute, the two sides “stressed the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight, and unimpeded lawful commerce throughout the region, including in the South China Sea.
Calling for “utmost respect” for international law, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), they reiterated that States should resolve disputes through peaceful means, and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes.
China has been increasing its assertiveness in South China sea notwithstanding the verdict of an arbitration court in
The Hague that China had no historical title over the South China Sea.
On India’s NSG bid, the statement said, “In a further effort to strengthen global non-proliferation and export controls, the sides committed to redouble their efforts towards India’s early entry into the NSG”
The US also re-affirmed its support for India’s early membership of the other export control regimes — Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement. China had objected to India’s candidacy when the NSG plenary had taken up its application in Seoul in July.
On Afghanistan, the two countries expressed deep concern over violence and terrorism continuing in that country and called for sustained commitment and support of the international community for a stable, democratic and united Afghanistan.
The two countries welcomed the convening of the India-US-Afghanistan Trilateral in New York later this year.
Reiterating that defense ties form the bedrock of the bilateral strategic partnership, the two sides recognised the importance of the announcement regarding India as a Major Defense Partner of the US and decided to take further steps expeditiously to enable greater cooperation in the area of co-production and co-development.
“To this end, the US committed to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with its closest allies and partners,” the statement said.
Recognising the growing threats and challenges in cyberspace and the serious risks to national security from malicious cyber activity, both countris reaffirmed working together to promote cyber security, combat cyber-crime, besides improve cooperation among technical and law enforcement agencies.
“In this context, they welcomed the signing of the Framework for the India-US Cyber Relationship,” according to the joint statement.
On containing terror, they decided continue reviewing and consider other organizations that warrant terrorist designations including those that engage in cross-border terrorism.
Both the countries resolved to build on the ‘2015 Joint Declaration on Combating Terrorism’ by expanding their practical cooperation to increase capacity to address the worldwide terrorist threat.
The two countries are developing more joint Counter Terrorism exchanges, programs, and initiatives to deepen the bilateral partnership, said the statement, adding the two sides reaffirmed their support for a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that strengthens the framework for global cooperation to combat the menace and reinforces that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism.
The statement said both sides reaffirmed their commitment to work together as priority partners in the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean region.
Reflecting shared objectives in combating the threat from terrorists accessing and using nuclear and other radiological materials, the two sides reaffirmed commitments made at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington earlier this year.
The statement said India and the US also reaffirmed their support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member.