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India, UK denounce terrorism, talk on ease visa norm

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India and the UK on Monday agreed to start a strategic dialogue on home affairs issues covering areas like visas and organised crime even as they voiced concern over terrorism, which they saw as threat that was not a “limited security challenge” and whose arc spread “across nations and regions”.

After holding extensive talks which covered a wide range issues including trade, investment, security and defence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Theresa May called for Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist strike in Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot attack to justice.

Addressing a joint press event with May, Modi said they discussed ways to purposefully work together to combat the growing forces of radicalisation and terrorism. “We agreed that it is not a limited security challenge. Its arc of threat spreads across nations and regions. Terrorists move across borders with ease and endanger the entire humanity.

“I conveyed our deep concern to Prime Minister May regarding cross-border terrorism and the need for the international community to take strong action against States that support and sponsor terrorism,” he said.

On her part, May said the two countries face the shared threat of terrorism as individual countries, as partners, and global powers, and have agreed to strengthen cooperation, in particular by sharing best practices to tackle use of internet by violent extremists.

“We have also agreed to establish a strategic dialogue on Home affairs issues covering visas, returns and organised crime. As part of this we will step up speed and return of those Indians who have no right to be in the UK,” May said.

The joint statement issued after the talks said May strongly condemned the September terrorist attack on the Indian Army Brigade headquarters in Uri and offered condolences to the victims and their families.

In an obvious reference to Pakistan hailing slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani as “martyr”, the joint statement said, “There should be no glorification of terrorists or efforts to make a distinction between good and bad terrorists. They agreed that South Asia should be stable, prosperous and free from terror and called on all countries to work towards that goal.”

Strongly affirming that terrorism is a serious threat to humanity, the leaders reiterated their strong commitment to combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stressed that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds. They shared the view that there should be zero tolerance to terrorism, the statement said.

“The UK will consider further improvements to our visa offer if at the same time we can step up the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain,” May told reporters in New Delhi, referring to the launch of a separate strategic dialogue on home affairs.

“We will continue to raise our concerns regarding mobility with the UK,” said Vikas Swarup, spokesman of ministry of external affairs. “Mobility of people is closely linked to free flow of finance, goods and services.”

Speaking at the India-UK Tech Summit, May said: “So we will offer, for the first time to any country that needs visas to enter Britain, what we called ‘Registered Traveller Scheme’.

“That means the Indian nationals who frequently come to the UK and to fuel growth in both our countries, the entry process will become significantly easier,” she said at the event organised by CII that was also attended by Modi.

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