Modi, Pence discuss defence and trade cooperation in Indo-Pacific 

Prime minister Narendra Modi
Prime minister Narendra Modi

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and US vice-president Mike Pence held talks on Wednesday (14) on a wide range of issues including ways to combat terror and defence and trade cooperation.

The duo met on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Singapore, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.

They had “productive discussion on all aspects of global strategic partnership based on growing convergence of interests on regional and global issues,” he said, reported Press Trust of India.

Pence also praised India and the US’s commitment to combating terrorism, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters after the meeting, adding that Modi reminded Pence that all leads in the global terror attacks ultimately leads to a “single source and single place of origin.”

Modi did not name any country or organisation.

“He did point out that the mainstreaming of people involved in the Mumbai attacks in a political process which has taken place in the recent elections in Pakistan should be a matter of serious concern and not to just the two countries which is India and US but to international community,” Gokhale said, referring to the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s party contesting the July 25 elections in Pakistan.

“There was some good understanding of the areas of how we move forward in building cooperation in counter-terrorism and both countries recognised this is a challenge we have to fight together and to fight along with the rest of the international community,” Gokhale said.

On bilateral issues, the two sides had brief discussions on trade-related matters and Modi is believed to have highlighted the fact that ever since Donald Trump assumed office, American exports to India have grown by 50 per cent.

“We agreed that in a new relationship we are building with the US where trade is expanding we need to find ways in which we can help that process to take place,” he said.

Gokhale said Modi also discussed the import of oil and gas worth $4 billion from the US as the two leaders emphasised on the need to enhance energy cooperation.

“This is important from the perspective of US. There was a lot of discussions on energy. This is a new sector in Indo-US relations – we have begun importing oil and gas from US worth about USD 4 billion this year. We express our readiness to import more gas and oil from US as a way of expanding trade,” he said.

The defence sector was another area of cooperation between the two sides.

“Both sides agreed that there have been a substantial enhancement in our defence relationship and in our imports of equipment from the US but prime minister Modi stressed that there was a great opportunity for the US in India in making defence equipment and in setting up defence industry in India,” Gokhale said.

“Not only because India is a substantial market but because the way we are placed regionally we can become a hub for exports to the rest of the region,” Gokhale said.