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‘Greatest terrorism threat comes from Al Qaida affiliates’

US President Barack Obama feels ‘stars are aligned’ to finally realise his vision of India and the United States becoming global partners to meet global challenges, but said the two leaderships needed to “make sure that words are matched by deeds”.

The US President will be on a three-day state visit to India from Sunday – the first American President to visit the country twice and also the first to be the chief guest at the Republic Day Parade. In an email interview to a weekly news magazine, Obama said India and the US could advance their shared security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Obama said it was “true that progress” in India – US relations “has not always come as fast as we would have liked”. But said the two nations have deepened their ties and increased bilateral trade by 60 per cent in the last few years, which created more jobs for the two people. He identified defence and counter-terrorism as areas where intensive cooperation has been achieved but said the two could deepen cooperation for maritime security in the Asia Pacific.

Going forward, the US President said the two countries could work together to reduce barriers to trade, increase investment, and high-tech collaboration as also work together to meet the challenge of climate change. “I appreciate the prime minister’s eagerness to take the India-US partnership to the next level,” Obama said.

The US President said the “racial, ethnic and religious diversity is a source of strength, at home and in the world”, for both India and the US supported India’s call for a reformed United Nations Security Council and New Delhi’s aspirations to be one of its permanent members.

Obama said the US was working with Pakistan to address the threat of terrorism but had made it clear to Islamabad that “safe havens within Pakistan are not acceptable and those behind the Mumbai terrorist attack must face justice”. He said the emergence of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq manifested the evolving nature of terrorism. “Today, the greatest threat comes from Al Qaida affiliates, violent extremist groups and individuals who have succumbed to terrorist ideologies.”

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