Washington, March 10: Despite a flap over sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan and India's denial of
visas to a US commission on religious freedom, the US says it has a strong
relationship with India, specifically with the Narendra Modi government.
"No, I would actually disagree with that," State Department
spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Wednesday when asked if the US was not
having a smooth ride with India in view of such issues.
"I think we have had and we look forward to continuing to have a good,
strong relationship with India writ large and with the Modi government
specifically," he said.
"And there are a lot of common issues, common challenges, common threats,
quite frankly, that we and the Indian people face," Kirby said.
"So no, I would absolutely not characterize that at all," he said.
"I think we've got a good, honest, candid, productive relationship with
the Modi government, and we look forward to that continuing. In fact, we look
forward to it deepening."
Asked whether issues surrounding the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal would
be resolved during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington for the
nuclear security summit later this month, Kirby said he didn't have
"anything specific" on the issue.
"Obviously, we're very much looking forward to that and to our ability to
participate in it. But I don't have anything specific with the Indian civil
nuclear programme to discuss today," he said.
The Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar's who Wednesday concluded a four day
visit to Washington to review India-US bilateral relations ahead of Modi's
visit "talked about a wide range of bilateral and regional issues"
with US officials.
Jaishankar met with Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and many other
officials, and discussed "the full range of issues in the US-India
relationship were discussed - economic, political, security," Kirby said.
Asked whether counter-terrorism and the sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan in
the face of India's strong objections was discussed, the official repeated that
"they discussed a wide range to include security issues" but declined
to give a detailed readout.
"I can scarcely think of a time when we haven't sat down with our Indian
friends that we didn't talk about counterterrorism," Kirby added.
He again declined "to get into great detail" whether India's denial
of visas to the US Commission On International Religious Freedom was discussed.
"We had good, productive talks about a wide range of issues facing both
our countries as we continue to try to deepen this relationship and deal with
very common challenges," Kirby said.
"As for the commission and the visas, we've made our concerns known at
various levels," he said. "So we've not been bashful or shy about
stating our disappointment.
By Arun Kumar
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)