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Article 370 India’s Internal Matter, Rajnath Singh Tells US Defence Secretary in Phone Call

Singh raised the issue of cross-border terrorism and appreciated the US support for India’s effort to maintain peace and stability in the region, a defence ministry spokesperson said.

New Delhi: In a telephonic conversation with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, US Defence Secretary Mark T Esper on Thursday called recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir as internal matters of India and hoped that any issue between New Delhi and Islamabad will be resolved bilaterally.

Singh raised the issue of cross-border terrorism and appreciated the US support for India’s effort to maintain peace and stability in the region, a defence ministry spokesperson said.

He conveyed to Esper that withdrawing special status of Jammu and Kashmir was India’s internal matter and that the decisions relating to it were aimed at improving economic growth, enhancing democracy as well as prosperity of the people of the region.

“US Secretary of Defence appreciated India’s position that the recent developments in Jammu & Kashmir are an internal matter of India. He hoped that any issue between India and Pakistan will be resolved bilaterally,” the spokesperson said.

The talks between Singh and Esper came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a telephonic conversation with US President Donald Trump.

Earlier this month, India abrogated provisions of Article 370 in the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and divided the state into two Union Territories, evoking strong reactions from Pakistan.

In their conversation, Singh and Esper expressed happiness at the “significant progress” made in bilateral defence cooperation and reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen and deepen the relations further.

“They exchanged views on a range of issues related to military-to-military cooperation, defence policy, research and development, defence trade, technology and industrial cooperation,” the official said.

The two leaders also expressed satisfaction on the first tri-service joint exercise being planned for later this year and steps taken to operationalise agreements like LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement) and COMCASA (Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement).

After decades of negotiation, India has signed LEMOA with the US in 2016. The pact will facilitate armed forces of the two countries access each other’s military facilities.

India inked the COMCASA — the military-information sharing pact, with the US last year after the talks under the ‘2+2’ format.

Under the ‘2+2’ dialogue, the US secretary of state and US defence secretary engage with India’s external affairs minister and the defence minister.

In the telephonic conversation, Singh conveyed to Esper that the US defence companies are welcome to invest in Indian defence manufacturing sector under the ‘Make in India’ programme.

“Both the ministers looked forward to the 2+2 dialogue later this year in the US,” said the defence ministry spokesperson.

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