India, US to deepen collaboration against LeT, JeM

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Washington: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, India and the US have agreed to deepen their collaboration against Pakistan-based militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), responsible for several attacks in India.

Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and the US National Security Advisor Susan Rice agreed to do so at a meeting at the White House here on Tuesday to review preparations for the March 31-April 1 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS).

Modi is expected to have a bilateral meeting with President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the 50-nation summit. There is widespread speculation that he may also meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, who too has been invited to NSS.

While LeT is held responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, JeM is blamed for the January 2 attack on the Indian Air Force station at Pathankot.

Rice and Jaishankar also “affirmed their commitment to deepening bilateral cooperation on climate change, trade, and defence”, according to a statement by National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson Ned Price.

“They also discussed US-India collaboration against Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and other terrorist threats,” it said.

“Building on their leaders’ commitment to make the US-India partnership a defining relationship for the 21st Century, they agreed to deepen their already close collaboration on these issues.”

The last time Indian and Pakistani premiers met was on December 25, 2015, when Modi made a surprise visit to Lahore, a first by an Indian prime minister in over a decade.

Modi briefly attended Sharif’s grand-daughter’s wedding ceremony and then held a brief meeting with his Pakistani counterpart.

The attack on the Pathankot airbase came a week later leading to the cancellation of foreign secretary level talks between India and Pakistan.

During his visit to Washington last week, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz expressed Islamabad’s “gratitude” to Secretary of State John Kerry and Obama for their “consistent support to the revival of Pakistan-India dialogue”.

He also affirmed Pakistan government’s commitment to acting against all terrorist groups without any distinction.

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