U.S. looking at free trade agreement with India

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"President Trump and other United States leaders have been clear that we will not tolerate cross-border terrorism or terrorist safe havens anywhere", said Kenneth Juster, new USA ambassador in his first policy remarks after taking charge in New Delhi.

"We (Us and India) have a strong mutual interest in eliminating this threat to our societies". He said India could become "an alternative hub for USA business in the Indo-Pacific region". "It will increase our economic interactions and volume of trade, lead to collaboration on emerging technologies, and create jobs in both countries", he said.

The US on Thursday reaffirmed its commitment to help India join the (), reported news agency ANI. In his first policy speech since taking over as ambassador, Juster laid out the Trump administration's agenda for India and emphasised that the United States will not tolerate "cross-border terrorism" or terror safe havens.

He also echoed President 's belief that India play a bigger role in Afghanistan, even as he stressed that the situation would not improve till "Pakistan does not contribute positively".

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The US ambassador's suggestions are in line with the US National Security Strategy put out by Washington in December that described India as a major world power.

However, Juster made no reference to Pakistan in his speech.

Recalling that U.S. defence trade has increased from virtually zero to $15 billion now, the ambassador said the USA wanted to support India's initiative for indigenous production.

"That was really a major impetus in suspending the security assistance to Pakistan because we feel they have not done all that they could to try to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan that are contributing to unrest in Afghanistan", Juster added.

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Juster said shared values and "common interests" inform the vision of New Delhi and Washington for the strategically significant Indo-Pacific region, in which the U.S. considers India to be a "leading power". "This would complement our growing defence and counter-terrorism partnership, and moderate any policy differences that might arise along the way", Juster said.

Juster was at pains to clarify that "America First" and "Make in India" were "not incompatible".

Juster said the USA sees India as a leading power in the Indo-Pacific region that is fast becoming the centre of gravity of the evolving global system. China wants that in case the NPT clause is waived off for India then Pakistan should also be allowed to be a member of the NSG. He said, "A number of USA companies have reported increasing difficulties in conducting business in the largest market in the region, China".

"We will not tolerate terrorism, cross-border terrorism or any form of terrorism or safe havens of any type".

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Mentioning defence and military cooperation as an important pillar of India-US Strategic Partnership, Juster listed various activities the two countries are engaged in bilaterally and pointed that it is now time to make sure that the strategic partnership is a durable partnership. Together we want to ensure a free& open region. he added.

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