WASHINGTON — The United States and India agreed Wednesday to expand defense, science and technology cooperation following security talks at the U.S. State Department.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper met their Indian counterparts in Washington — External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
During the talks, the four men said, they agreed to improve defense cooperation, primarily through increasing troop levels during joint military exercises and promoting the capacity of India’s smaller neighbors to participate in U.N. peacekeeping operations.
The two sides also discussed China’s growing global footprint, a matter that is of particular concern for both the U.S. and India, and challenges on the Indian subcontinent, notably the rivalry between India and Pakistan.
Tensions between Pakistan and India have been heightened since Aug. 5, when India changed the status of its part of Kashmir, drawing protests from Pakistan. India has since eased restrictions in Kashmir.
Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said Thursday he has written to the U.N., warning the world body of what he says are actions by India to position missile launchers in the Indian-controlled Kashmir.
In the letter, the minister said he fears India plans to launch an attack on Pakistan to divert international attention from human rights violations in the area. The minister did not offer evidence to support his claim of missiles being placed in the disputed Himalayan region. There was no immediate comment from India.
These are “Indian actions that continue to escalate tensions in an already tense environment in South Asia,” Qureshi said, demanding the U.N. respond to the purported moves by India.
Pakistan’s top diplomat also claimed in the letter to the U.N. that India has partially removed the fence in five areas along the so-called line of control of the heavily militarized Kashmir, which is divided between the two nuclear rivals and claimed by both in its entirety.
Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over control of Kashmir since they gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947. They nearly went to war again in February, when a suicide bombing in Indian-run part of Kashmir killed 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers. India at the time responded by bombing an alleged militant training camp in Pakistan. Islamabad later said its forces downed two Indian Air Force planes and captured an Indian pilot, who was later released.