India-US ties progressing, engaged with Trump govt. on H-1B visa issue: Swaraj

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on June 5 said India-US ties are progressing under the Trump administration as they were during the Obama presidency and the pace had not slowed down.
Addressing a press conference on key initiatives of her ministry in three years of the Modi government, Swaraj also described the proposed changes in H1B visas as a “matter of concern.”
She said the government was engaged with the Donald Trump administration as well as US Congressmen on the issue and was “alert” to any possible negative impact.
The matter will also figure during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, she said, but did not give the date of his travel. Modi is expected to visit the country by the month-end.
Some of the other major points made by Swaraj during the press interaction are —
• India to raise airspace violation issue with China after Chinese choppers flew over Chamoli district.
• India opposed China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) project as it violated India’s sovereignty which was not acceptable. China will be forced to rethink as other countries while participating in the OBOR meet, conveyed their view on territorial integrity and sovereignty.
• India is also involved in various connectivity projects, including the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) initiative, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation (BCIM) and Chahbahar port in Iran, but goes by principles on maintenance of territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries.
•India wants countries which back its bid for NSG membership and are friends with China, to talk to Beijing on the issue.
•India’s NSG membership to be credential-based and not criteria-based.
• India wants to resolve all issues with Pakistan bilaterally, but talks and terror cannot go together. No flip-flop in India’s policy on Pakistan.
• Pakistan can’t take Kashmir issue to International Court of Justice (ICJ). Kashmir can only be resolved bilaterally.
• Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, cutting ties with Qatar is an internal matter of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). India is only ascertaining if any of its nationals are getting adversely impacted by it.
•All issues pertaining to Chahbahar port have been resolved. All the projects are reviewed by me every three months and by the prime minister, every six months. So, the pace of these projects are picking up.
• Fishermen issue is of “primary importance” to the government, which has taken several steps to address it jointly with the Sri Lankan government.
•There cannot be any timeline in finalizing Teesta waters agreement with Bangladesh as there has to be consensus among the Centre, the West Bengal government and the Bangladesh government.
•The government is looking into concerns expressed by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on the sharing of Teesta waters.
•Totally “baseless” Pakistani allegations that Afghanistan was afraid of India and that was the reason for Kabul to blame Islamabad for terror attacks there.
•The ministry will not hesitate in utilizing budgetary allocation to bring back Indians stuck abroad.
• There is no decision on Modi visiting the Maldives. The prime minister and the external affairs minister have covered all the SAARC countries.
• India’s relations with West Asia have become one of the best.
• 80,000 people stranded abroad brought back to India in the last three years.
• There is a 37.5 percent increase in FDI since NDA government took over three years ago.

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