Indian students

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale met the leaders of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Non-Proliferation March 11 in Washington, D.C. (l-r): Representative Tom Suozzi, Indian Ambassador Harsh Shringla, Gokhale, Subcommittee chairman Brad Sherman and Ranking Republican Party member Ted Yoho. (Brad Sherman/Twitter photo)

NEW YORK — The detention of Indian students by the U.S. immigration authorities came up during Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale’s meeting with Congressional leaders, according to a participant.

Representative Tom Suozzi tweeted that during the March 11 meeting, they discussed immigration issues and that he “sought everyone’s assistance regarding the Telugu students detained” by the immigration authorities.

The meeting took place at the Washington office of Brad Sherman, a Democrat, who is the chairman of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Non-Proliferation. The panel’s Ranking Republican Member Ted Yoho was also present.

In February, immigration officials detained 129 students, most of them from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, who had enrolled in a fake university that officials had created in a sting operation against the misuse of visas.

Officials alleged that the students had enrolled in the institution knowing that it did not hold classes but was used only to facilitate visas.

Suozzi, a Democrat with a large number of Indian Americans in his New York constituency, also tweeted: “The relationship between the U.S. and India is one of the most important relationships the U.S. (will) have over the next 50 years.”

Sherman tweeted that they also discussed the U.S. role in India-Pakistan relations and U.S.-India trade.

On March 12, Gokhale attended the India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue with David Hale, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in Washington, D.C.

India and the U.S. also reaffirmed their commitment to work together to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems and to deny access to such weapons by terrorists and non-state actors.

The two sides exchanged views on a wide range of global security and non-proliferation challenges during the ninth round of the India-U.S. Strategic Security Dialogue held in Washington, D.C. March 13.

The Indian delegation was led by Gokhale while the U.S. delegation was led by Andrea Thompson, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

“The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to work together to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems and to deny access to such weapons by terrorists and non-state actors,” an External Affairs Ministry statement said.

Terrorism was a focus of the talks he had with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton and other administration officials and Congressional leaders during his three-day visit to Washington that ended Mar. 13.

Bolton tweeted after their meeting: "The U.S. stands shoulder-to-shoulder with India in the fight against terrorism."

The Ministry said the two sides committed to strengthen bilateral security and civil nuclear cooperation, including the establishment of six U.S. nuclear power plants in India.

Financial problems of the U.S. company Westinghouse that had agreed in 2016 to build six plants in Andhra Pradesh put the plans on hold when it went into bankruptcy the next year.

Now owned by Brookfield Asset Management, Westinghouse has received the backing of the Trump administration for the project and U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry promoted it during a visit to India last year.

The U.S. also reaffirmed its strong support of India’s early membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

On March 12, Indra Mani Pandey, Additional Secretary for Disarmament and International Security Affairs, and Yleem D.S. Poblete, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, co-chaired the third round of the India-U.S. Space Dialogue, where they discussed trends in space threats, respective national space priorities and opportunities for cooperation bilaterally and in multilateral fora.

India and the U.S. called on Pakistan to address terrorism, including cross-border terrorism, the Ministry of External Affairs said March 13.

They reaffirmed their commitment to an Indo-U.S. strategic partnership, reviewed the progress made since the Ministerial 2+2 meet, and discussed ways to further expand cooperation.

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