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Foreign Secretary Gokhale, Mike Pompeo hold talks, say Pak must take 'concerted action' to dismantle terror groups

Mar 11 (AZINS) India and the US on Monday agreed that Pakistan needs to take "concerted action" to dismantle terrorist infrastructure as Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale called on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and discussed major foreign policy and security-related issues after the Pulwama terror attack.

Gokhale arrived in the US on Sunday for the bilateral Foreign Office Consultation and Strategic Security Dialogue with his American counterparts, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson.

Gokhale and Pompeo expressed satisfaction over the significant progress and the quality of the India-US Strategic Partnership since the Secretary of State Pompeo's visit to India in September 2018 for the first-ever Ministerial 2+2 Dialogue, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

The foreign secretary conveyed the appreciation to the US Government and to Pompeo personally for the firm support that India received from the US in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir.

Secretary Pompeo expressed his understanding of India's concerns regarding cross -border terrorism.

"They agreed that Pakistan needs to take concerted action to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and to deny safe haven to all terrorist groups in its territory. They also agreed that those who support or abet terrorism in any form should be held accountable," the statement said.

The talks are considered significant in view of the escalated tension between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of India's preemptive air strike on the largest terrorist training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Balakot in Pakistan and the subsequent developments.

Tensions between India and Pakistan flared up after a suicide bomber of the Pakistan-based JeM terror group killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district.

India has provided a dossier to Pakistan, detailing the role of JeM in the Pulwama terror attack. India has also said that Pakistan has failed to take any credible action against JeM and other terrorist organisations, which continue to operate with impunity from Pakistan.

State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino, during his bi-weekly news conference last Tuesday, said Secretary of State Pompeo played an "essential role" in de-escalating tensions between India and Pakistan.

"Secretary Pompeo led diplomatic engagement directly, and that played an essential role in de-escalating the tensions between the two sides," he had said.

Protocol-wise, it is quite unusual for Pompeo to meet Gokhale, but over the last few years, the US Secretary of State has met the Foreign Secretary, including his predecessor S Jaishankar.

The foreign office consultation and strategic security dialogue with the US are regular high-level dialogue mechanisms to review bilateral relations, exchange views on major foreign policy and security-related developments and coordinate respective positions on issues of common interest, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

Gokhale's visit comes as India intensifies its efforts to declare Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist by the United Nations Security Council.

Last month, the US, the UK and France made a fresh bid at the UN to ban Azhar. JeM is already a UN-designated terrorist organisation.

During his visit, the Foreign Secretary is also likely to meet with senior leaders in the US administration and the US Congress.

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