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Upward trajectory of India-US ties not impacted at all: EAM Jaishankar on Pannun case

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NEW DELHI, May 10: The upward trajectory of India-US relations has not been impacted at all by allegations of an Indian link to a foiled assassination plot, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said.

In November, the US charged an Indian national of conspiring to murder Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York.

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In an exclusive interview to PTI late Thursday, Jaishankar said the fundamentals of India-US ties are very robust and the allegations have not impacted the relations.

“The United States brought to our attention certain information in good faith because we also believe some of it has implications for our own system,” he said.

“We are investigating it. But I do not think the fundamental course of the upward trajectory of India-US is impacted by this at all,” the external affairs minister said in the freewheeling conversation at PTI’s headquarters.

Days after Washington alleged the Indian link to the plot, India instituted a high-level inquiry committee to look into the inputs received from the US in the case.

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Pannun, wanted in India on terror charges, holds dual citizenship of the US and Canada.

Last month, The Washington Post named an Indian official for allegedly plotting to assassinate Pannun. Days later, India said the report made “unwarranted and unsubstantiated” imputations on a serious matter and that investigation into the case was underway.

Listing various areas of cooperation, Jaishankar said, “I think, today, we have such a strong strategic convergence with the United States.”

In his remarks, he cited driving the international economy, diversifying production, creating new supply chains, ensuring peace and stability and collaboration in the domain of high-technology as shining examples of India-US ties.

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“I think the India-US account is a very, very solid one,” he said.

Jaishankar also said there was a problem in the relationship in the past.

“There was a kind of left-wing ideology in this country which said let us not do too much with the US. It goes back to the Nehruvian-Krishna Menon time period. I think it went all the way till 2014,” he said.

“Maybe Atal ji’s (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) government was an exception, but otherwise pretty much there were self-imposed constraints in our dealing with the US,” he said.

Jaishankar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not share those views.

“PM Modi doesn’t share those and we have seen actually a much more robust, much more whole-hearted relationship with the US which is actually showing results on the ground,” he added.

The minister also highlighted the assertive approach in India’s foreign policy under the prime minister’s leadership.

“When we look at an issue, we look at it from the point of view of Indian national interest. And if that Indian national interest means taking pressure, offending other countries or pushing back, we are prepared to do it,” he said.

“We are, for example, very, very focused on trying to get UN Security Council membership. This was not the case earlier. In fact, there was a time when, you know, the position of our government was that first let them accommodate China and then our turn will come,” he said.

“So, we are very clear, Bharat comes first.”

Jaishankar said the Modi government is also very focused on issues relating to national security.

“Not only positioning wise, but in terms of friends and partners who will contribute to our national security and also in terms of the border infrastructure where there has been quite a remarkable transformation,” he said.

“The quality of the infrastructure today allows us to deploy troops on the LAC (Line of Actual Control) in a manner which we could not have done earlier,” he said.

The Modi government is also very focused on getting for the country the resources, the best practices, the technologies that it believes are important for national development, according to the minister.

“We are also much more conscious of our culture, civilization, heritage, traditions than previous governments. We project it much more confidently,” he said. (PTI)







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