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June 9, 2016



Strong India in US interest: Modi

Says both countries are natural military allies; Indian activities in Indian Ocean to benefit US; neighbour harbouring terrorism

WASHINGTON: Stressing that a strong India is in the US’s interest, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said both the countries are natural military allies.

In an address to the US Congress, Modi accused the ‘neighbour’ of harbouring and nurturing terrorism. He asked the US to work together in combating terrorism.

“Terrorism is situated in our neighbourhood. The US Congress should take action against those who use terrorism for political and strategic gains,” he said.

Calling terrorism a menace, he said terrorism remains the biggest threat. “From the west of India’s border to Africa, it may go by different names, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Taliban or ISIS,” he said, adding “Its ideology remains the same.”

Modi said the first step would be to delink terrorism from religion. “The need of the hour is to take action against those who nurture, harbour and provide a haven to terrorism. There can be no differentiation between good terrorism and bad terrorism,” he added. “We are victims of terrorism. We lose our security forces due to terrorism,” he said.

The Indian prime minister cited the threat faced by South Asia due to terrorism. Without naming anyone, Modi referred to Congress’ move to block military assistance to Pakistan, saying, “I commend the members of the US Congress for sending a clear message to those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains.”

“Refusing to reward them is the first step towards holding them accountable for their actions,” he said, adding that the fight against terrorism has to be fought at many levels. “Traditional tools of military, intelligence or diplomacy alone would not be able to win this fight,” he said.

Modi asked the Congress to deepen security cooperation and base it on a policy that “doesn’t distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorists”.

For us to succeed, he said, those who believe in humanity must come together to fight for it as one, and speak against this menace in one voice. He said Indian activities in the Indian Ocean will benefit the US.

Reuters adds: Modi dedicated much of the speech to the importance of fighting terrorism.

Modi stressed that India is committed to helping rebuild a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, even as he said he considers terrorism the biggest threat there and elsewhere in South Asia.

At a time of heightened regional tensions over China’s assertive pursuit of territory in the South China Sea, Modi said a stronger US-India partnership could boost peace and prosperity “from Asia to Africa and from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.”

He did not mention China. “It can also help ensure security of the sea lanes and commerce and freedom of navigation on seas,” Modi added.

Democrats leapt to their feet when Modi referred to the recent climate change summit, in a discussion of the importance of renewable energy. But Republicans in the House chamber remained seated, reflecting the US political divide over the issue.