United States looks at long term military ties with India: Kenneth Juster

US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster

"I want to see a US-India FTA ... a strategic view of our economic relationship could eventually lead to a roadmap for a US-India Free Trade Agreement", US Ambassador to India Kenneth I Juster said here on Thursday.

"A number of U.S. companies have reported increasing difficulties conducting business in the largest market in the region - China". Accordingly, some companies are downgrading their operations there, while others are looking with great interest at alternative markets.

In his first policy speech since taking over as ambassador, Juster laid out the Trump administrations agenda for India and emphasised that the United States will not tolerate "cross-border terrorism" or terror safe havens.

Outlining US President Donald Trump's agenda for India, Jester said the US is also working "very closely" with worldwide partners to secure India's Nuclear Suppliers Group membership, even as he hoped that New Delhi would join the Australia Group on chemical and biological weapons in the "very near future". One is Afghanistan, where we both have a strong interest in promoting peace, security and prosperity.

"We will not tolerate terrorism, cross-border terrorism or any form of terrorism or safe havens of any type".

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Mentioning defence and military cooperation as an important pillar of India-US Strategic Partnership, Juster listed various activities the two countries are engaged in bilaterally and pointed that it is now time to make sure that the strategic partnership is a durable partnership. "India can seize the strategic opportunity - through trade and investment - to become an alternative hub for US business in the Indo-Pacific region", he told an audience in New Delhi. He pointed out that in little more than a decade, the USA defence trade with India has expanded from virtually nothing to over 15 billion dollars, and includes sales of some of America's most advanced military equipment.

Juster said the two countries initially faced challenging and complicated issues related to the transfer of sensitive U.S. technology with both military and conventional applications. After membership to the Wassenaar Arrangement and MTCR, Juster said, India would "very soon" become a member of the Australia Group.

He said Mr. Trump's recent decision to suspend security aid to Pakistan came because Islamabad "has not done all it can to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan that are contributing to unrest in Afghanistan".

India has been long vying to secure the NSG membership and Juster signalled at the positive times for India. Hopefully, their feedback to their countries would help crystallize thinking on the issue of terrorism, Pakistan's role and contribution, its sacrifices, the need to extend support to the country and scuttle propaganda against the country being unleashed by some forces as part of their regional and global agenda.

The defence and security relationship, he said, was underpinned by cooperation in counter-terrorism and on strategic convergences. He pointed out that India's constant growth means that its energy needs are going to be substantial in the near future.

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