Visas an irritant in glorious ties with US: MEA

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 29

The government on Thursday drew satisfaction from the 2+2 talks with the US here earlier this week but indicated reservations about its curbs on the movement of people. The MEA described the unhindered legal movement of people as “an important foundation of the special relationship between India and the US”.

“In our engagements, we have emphasised that this has been a mutually-beneficial partnership which should be nurtured. We are engaged with the US Government for increasing predictability in the visa regime and to minimise the inconvenience being faced by those in the U.S. or those who need to travel to the U.S. for bonafide reasons. The Government will continue to monitor any developments on this issue,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava at a media briefing today.

The US has severely altered the lottery system of allocating H-1B visas, restricted even bonafide travel and has turned against immigration generally. India believes that partnership with the US in trade and people-to-people ties are as vital legs of the relationship as security and defence.

Trade issues also remain unresolved. “We have agreed to rejuvenate bilateral trade. There are ongoing discussions between the USTR and the Ministry of Commerce to reach an understanding on improving market access and the business environment,” said the spokesperson.

On the whole, however, the talks were reflective of the comprehensive global strategic partnership with the US under which a range of foreign policy issues were discussed. “The discussions covered various elements of bilateral partnership and there was a sense of satisfaction that the partnership has grown in every domain such as defence, education, energy etc,” said Srivastava.

The two sides engaged most closely on national security and one important focus was the Indo-Pacific. The two sides also engaged views on multilateral issues against the backdrop of India poised to hold a two-year term in the UNSC from January 1, 2020.

There was also progress in discussions on energy, including the four-identified pillars, besides an extension of cooperation under the global center for nuke energy partnership.

The US also appreciated Indian developmental assistance and multimodal connectivity to Afghanistan via the Iranian port of Chabahar.

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