Singapore: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US Vice President Mike Pence held talks on Wednesday on a wide range of bilateral and global issues of mutual interests including defence and trade cooperation, ways to counter terrorism and the need for maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The two leaders had a warm meeting on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit here, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.
They had “productive discussion on all aspects of global strategic partnership based on growing convergence of interests on regional and global issues,” he said.
Pence referred to the upcoming 10th anniversary of the deadly Mumbai terror attack on 26 November and hailed cooperation between the two countries on countering terrorism, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters after the meeting.
Modi thanked Pence and reminded him that in one way or other all the traces and all leads in the global terror attacks ultimately leads to a “single source and single place of origin”, without naming any country or organisation.
“He did point out that the mainstreaming of people involved in the Mumbai attacks in a political process which has taken place in the recent elections in Pakistan should be a matter of serious concern and not to just the two countries which is India and US but to international community,” Gokhale said, referring to the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s party contesting the July 25 elections in Pakistan.
On bilateral issues, the two sides had brief discussions on trade-related matters.
“We agreed that in a new relationship we are building with the US where trade is expanding we need to find ways in which we can help that process to take place,” he said.
Prime Minister Modi remarked in particular that in the last two years – since President Donald Trump has assumed office – American exports to India have grown by 50% and it is perhaps only country, perhaps the only one, of the top 10 countries with which the US has a trade deficit, where the deficit is actually reduced last year and is on course to further reduce this year, Gokhale said.
He said Prime Minister Modi also discussed import of oil and gas worth $4 billion from the US as the two leaders emphasised on the need to enhance energy cooperation.
The defence sector was another area of cooperation between the two sides.
“Both sides agreed that there has been a substantial enhancement in our defence relationship and in our imports of equipment from the US but Prime Minister Modi stressed that there was a great opportunity for the US in India in making defence equipment and in setting up defence industry in India,” he said.
Modi conveyed to Pence that he hoped the Trump administration would recognise this as a new economic opportunity.
There was an appreciation for the recently held first-ever Ministerial 2+2 meeting between defence and foreign ministers of the two countries.
Pence felt that India is a positive factor in regional and international relations and said the US looks forward to working with India on various issues both on political and economic sides to ensure “we have a fair rules-based international order”, he said.
The two sides “agreed that on the international forums, we should on the basis of the shared values build up a possible cooperation in a number of areas”.