US, India to bolster ties, fight terrorism together

US, India to bolster ties, fight terrorism together

The United States Tuesday vowed to support India in its fight against terrorism as both countries agreed to deepen security and economic ties and implement a civilian nuclear deal, DPA reported.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna held the second round of a strategic dialogue in New Delhi.

Addressing a press conference with Krishna, Clinton said counter-terrorism and security were key issues in the talks that took place less than a week after serial bombings rocked the Indian financial hub of Mumbai.

"Let me convey our deep sympathy and outrage to the people and government of India," she said, adding, "(We) pledge our support to you in your fight, which is also our fight, against terrorism and violent extremism."

Indian investigators were hunting for clues as the death toll in the Mumbai attacks rose to 20 with another victim succumbing to injuries at a Mumbai hospital Tuesday.

Clinton said both sides were making "great strides" on expanding security cooperation including counter-terrorism, and National Intelligence Director James Clapper was holding "significant" meetings in Delhi on the subject.

Discussions also addressed the volatile security situation in the wider region.

Clinton said the US was "encouraged" by the revived peace talks between India and neighbouring rival Pakistan.

"This is the most promising approach to build more confidence between them," she said adding the neighbours must work on measures to put their good intentions into practice.

Meanwhile, India voiced its concerns over the US troop drawdown in Afghanistan with Krishna saying Washington should take into account the realities on the ground, and ensure that Kabul was able to defend itself against the Taliban insurgents.

India and the US were working to enhance bilateral economic ties including resuming negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty, he said, adding that defence cooperation and environment issues also featured in the talks.

India is currently the 12th-largest trading partner for the US with trade volume at 50 billion dollars in 2010. New Delhi wishes to increase it to 88 billion dollars annually.

Clinton and Krishna also discussed the implementation of a US-India civilian nuclear deal.

"We reiterated our commitment to taking forward civil nuclear energy cooperation on the basis of full implementation of mutual commitments," Krishna said.

Clinton was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee later Tuesday.

The secretary of state, who arrived in New Delhi late Monday, is visiting India for the second time since taking office. Her tour follows President Barack Obama's visit to India last November.

Clinton was scheduled to travel to the southern city of Chennai, a hub for US investment, on Wednesday. She is to leave the country Thursday for the next leg of her trip to Indonesia and China.

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