US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed counterterrorism efforts with his Indian counterpart Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and reaffirmed Washington’s readiness to assist New Delhi in combating terrorism, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a readout of the meeting on Monday.
“Secretary Pompeo affirmed that the United States stands with the people and government of India in the fight against terrorism”, Palladino said. “Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Secretary Gokhale discussed the importance of bringing those responsible for the attack to justice and the urgency of Pakistan taking meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil”.
Pompeo and Gokhale also addressed US-India economic cooperation and strategies to increase trade between the two countries in a reciprocal manner, the spokesman added.
The State Department did not specify, however, which attack Pompeo was referring to, but India’s Ministry of External Affairs said earlier on Monday that the two top diplomats discussed the 14 February attack in Pulwama district in Kashmir in which a suicide bomber killed more than 40 Indian paramilitary police personnel.
According to the statement from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, 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 continued.
The Indian-Pakistani tensions escalated last month, after the Pakistani military shot down two Indian warplanes in the disputed region of Kashmir, responding to an earlier airstrike by Indian aircraft against what New Delhi said was a camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad group, considered terrorists by India and located on the Pakistani soil across the so-called Line of Control, separating India- and Pakistan- controlled areas of Kashmir.
The Kashmir region has been a center of dispute between India and Pakistan for decades.
After gaining independence from British rule in 1947, Kashmir was partitioned between India and Pakistan. Since then, the Muslim-majority population in the Indian Jammu and Kashmir region has been reportedly conducting separatist militant operations in order to gain independence or join Pakistan. According to the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, there was a 176 percent rise in the number of terrorist incidents in the state between 2014 and 2018.