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‘Objective reading’ of Azhar case ensures support: Richard Verma

United States’ Ambassador to India Richard Verma speaks at the Foreign Correspondents Club Of South Asia in New Delhi on January 19, 2017. Mr. Verma said that India-U.S. relations were on an upward trajectory and he expected the trend to continue with the new administration under Donald Trump.   | Photo Credit: AP

Any “objective reading” of India’s demand to designate Masood Azhar a terrorist by the United Nations would lead one to support the case, United States Ambassador to India Richard Verma said on Friday, in a clear message to China which repeatedly blocked India’s efforts to get the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief banned by the world body.

“We have to understand and work through what these objections are. Any objective reading of the case would lead one to support the designation [of Azhar by the U.N. Security Council],” Mr. Verma told PTI in a telephonic interview on his last day in office in New Delhi. He said the U.S. was disappointed that the issue had not got through the Security Council yet, but refrained from directly speaking on if China was “siding with terrorism” in this case.

“We have been very proud with India to get additional designations in the United Nations. We have named additional entities in the Lashkar-e-Taiba and JeM to put additional pressure on these groups and actors. We think the right thing to do would be to designate them [Azhar and others] at the U.N.,” he said. “We are disappointed that we have not been able to do that.”

Hopeful of Trump coordination

Mr. Verma was, however, optimistic the Donald Trump administration would coordinate with India on the issues.

“I have every reason to believe the new administration will also move in a coordinated fashion [with India]. We got to continue to work with all parties including those who have not been supportive of these designations in the past,” he said adding, “we have to stay at it and not back off. It is a very important mechanism to hold people to account for their actions.”

As a political appointee, Mr. Verma’s term ends with President Barack Obama and Donald Trump taking over as the 45th U.S. President.

In the two years he has been in New Delhi, Mr. Verma, the first Indian-American to be appointed to the top U.S. diplomatic position, said these have been best years for bilateral ties.

Pakistan terror

Responding to another question on cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan, Mr. Verma said the Barack Obama administration has had a genuine and tough conversation with Pakistan.

“Terrorism is the biggest threat that confronts the U.S., people of India, and frankly the people of Pakistan and we have to stand together against this scourge. No one nation can solve those problems on its own. We have been united with our friends in India on ending cross-border terrorism,” he said.

Mr. Verma has said India and the U.S. have been sharing more intelligence, adding the bilateral ties are on a “solid upward trajectory” and the relationship has demonstrated that it can create jobs in the world’s two largest democracies and deliver economic prosperity and security.

“We have been having regular and tough conversations with leadership in Pakistan, to shut down the transit routes, to shut down the safe havens and ensure that people who turn to violence are held to account,” he said. “This would take continued cooperation of law enforcement, military and also cooperation to counter the extremist message so that the pull and potential of these groups are restricted considerably.”


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