Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

U.S. looking at free trade agreement with India

U.S. looking at free trade agreement with India

In a speech on India-US relations in New Delhi, Juster also said that the "America First" initiative of US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make in India" programme were not at variance with each other. "India can become an alternative hub for US business in the Indo-Pacific region".

"India is a leading power in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond".

He placed defence and counter-terrorism cooperation as the first pillar of the India-U.S. relationship, while calling economic relations, energy and environment, science and health, and regional cooperation as the other pillars.

"The United States will remain committed to this region - as we are to the rules-based global order - because our future is inextricably linked to it", he said.

"We want to promote respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, guarantee freedom of navigation over flight and commerce and other lawful uses of the sea, ensure territorial and maritime disputes are resolved peacefully consistent with worldwide laws", he added.

He added, "India can seize the strategic opportunity - through trade and investment - to become an alternative hub for USA business in the Indo-Pacific region".

"With regard to the H1B in particular, there were press articles last week that somehow people who had got H1B visas and were waiting for the green card have been told they have to go home.I think Washington has said that this is not under consideration in this review", Juster said in a bid to allay concerns that some 500,000 to 750,000 Indians waiting for their green cards could be asked to go back home.

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"(There are a) Few areas of collaboration. We have a strong mutual interest in eliminating this threat to our societies. Our leaders are committed to supporting Afghanistan and helping build that country's democratic institutions. China wants that in case the NPT clause is waived off for India then Pakistan should also be allowed to be a member of the NSG.

Jester said the USA is looking at lifting ties with India "from the strategic to the durable".

He reaffirmed the American position that the leaders of Pakistan had not "done all that they could" to rid it of safe havens for terror, and this had led to suspension of security assistance. Juster replied, saying that the Trump administration would not tolerate "safe havens for terrorists anywhere" or "cross-border terrorism". " "America First" and "Make in India" are not incompatible".

Juster also attempted to ease worries about the immigration issue in the U.S., that came to the fore with last year's Presidential election in the country.

"The US is probably as open a country as any in the world and we probably take more immigrants per year than any other country in the world ..."

"Over time, we should expand officer exchanges at our war colleges and our training facilities, and even at some point post reciprocal military liaison officers at our respective combatant commands", he said.

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