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India, US will work together to combat Islamic Terrorism and Jihadi Culture

Noting that there is an "unlimited potential" in Indo-US relations, India's new Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu has said the two countries will stand shoulder to shoulder to combat terrorism and the Jihadi culture that is invading the world over.

The 1988-batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer on Thursday presented his credentials to President Donald Trump in his Oval Office of the White House.

Addressing a reception hosted in his honour on Thursday, Sandhu said, "The United States and India will stand shoulder to shoulder and face all the problems, whether it's on the terrorism front or on the Jihadi culture, which is invading the world over."

Noting that there is an "unlimited potential" between India the America, he said even though the two countries have come a long way since he came to Washington in 1997 on his first posting, there is so much that needs to be done.

"When it is the largest and oldest democracies, when it is the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, when it is Silicon Valley and Bengaluru and when it is Hollywood and Bollywood, then certainly the potential is huge," Sandhu said.

He also highlighted the role being played by the Indian-American community in strengthening the bilateral ties.

It's "come back home", Sandhu said, referring to his two previous stints here as the Deputy Ambassador from July 2013 to January 2017 and as the First Secretary (Political) from 1997 to 2000.

The diplomat said every time he was posted in Washington, the time has always been challenging. "When I left, things had really smoothened up," he said.

During his first posting, India faced sanctions from the US in the aftermath of the Pokhran nuclear tests in 1998 and in the second stint, his arrival was marked with the Devyani Khobragade incident. The arrest of the 1999-batch IFS officer, when she was India's Deputy Consul-General in New York, in December 2014 on visa fraud charges triggered a huge row between India and the US.

Sandhu said he is confident that India and the US will iron out their differences.

"The US and India, they are basically brothers in democracy. And there will never be any problem which are so deep that two countries and two friends like US and India will not be able to sit across and resolve it," he said.

India is seeking exemption from high duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products as well as resumption of benefits on tariff on certain products under their Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

India is also pressing the US to facilitate greater market access for its products in the US in sectors such as agriculture, automobile, auto components and engineering.

On the other hand, the US wants greater market access for its farm and manufacturing products, dairy items and medical devices in India.

The reception hosted by Sandhu's predecessor Harsh Vardhan Shringla was attended by senior officials from the Trump administration, Indian-origin Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and eminent Indian-Americans from across the country.

The White House made special efforts for Sandhu, who arrived in the US on Sunday, to fast track his credentials ceremony to the President.

"Honoured to present my credentials as Ambassador of India to the USA to President Donald J Trump," he tweeted after the event.

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