New Delhi: The pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terrorism has to be kept up and the US remains strongly engaged with India to tackle the menace which is affecting regional peace, US Ambassador Richard Verma said on Thursday.
Appreciating Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lahore outreach, Verma said there was a need to work with the moderates in Pakistan and that the US was working with Islamabad on the issue of terror.
"We have to keep the pressure up, keep the leverage up work with moderate forces, work with Prime Minister Sharif and that's exactly the US President has done, Secretary (John) Kerry has done and we will continue to do it," he told NDTV.
The envoy said India's engagement with Pakistan was important and that US President Barack Obama was appreciative of Modi's outreach in Lahore last month.
He said Obama has appreciated decisions by Modi and Sharif to stick to talks despite the Pathankot terror attack. On reports about the US negotiating a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan similar to the one it had with India, Verma categorically said no such proposal was on the table.
Asked why US was not putting enough pressure on Pakistan to come down hard on terror infrastructure, the envoy said Washington has different relationship with both the countries and that its counter-terrorism cooperation with India was expanding rapidly. He said there was a need to strengthen democracy in Pakistan while putting pressure on the country to tackle terrorism and bring to book perpetrators of terror attacks.
On Afghanistan, he said there was a need for political solution to the Afghan problem and that elements within Taliban have to be engaged for reconciliation. Verma said year 2015 saw a significant progress in Indo-US ties in diverse areas including nuclear energy, defence and trade and commerce.
Asked whether there has been ease of doing business in India as claimed by the government, he said, "we were in a much better position then we were before." At the same time, he said there was need to have reforms in tax and land acquisition among others.
He said the two-way trade story has been very positive in the last one year, adding US hoped to commence nuclear commerce soon with India. The envoy said US will do its bit to ensure India's membership to various export control regimes.