The United States Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster on Thursday said the country might tweak its visa processes, but it would not put skilled workers from India at a disadvantage.

Juster made the comment at his inaugural policy speech during an event hosted by the Carnegie India think-tank. His statements come days after the US administration said it would not change its non-immigrant permit or H-1B visa policy.

“The US is a country of immigrants, and that’s what helped drive our economy and our growth and made us what we are,” Juster said. “And that’s not going to change.”

The ambassador said US President Donald Trump’s “America First” programme and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s “Make in India” policy are not incompatible. However, he believes that the economic relationship between the two countries could help increase trade volumes and ultimately culminate in a free trade agreement. He said India could become “an alternative hub for US business in the Indo-Pacific region”.

Defence ties

Juster proposed that the two countries work towards appointing military liaison officers at each other’s combatant commands. The objective, he said, was to turn the strategic relationship to a durable one.

“Over time, we should expand officer exchanges at our war colleges and our training facilities, and even at some point, post reciprocal military liaison officers at our respective combatant commands,” he said.

In an indirect reference to Pakistan, the envoy said the US would not tolerate “cross-border terrorism” or terrorist safe havens anywhere in the world. The Trump administration has suspended security assistance to the Pakistani military and demanded “decisive action” against Taliban factions based in the country.

Juster also said Washington was working closely with New Delhi and other international partners to secure India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

“Now, India is celebrating its membership in two of the four multilateral export control regimes – the Wassenaar Arrangement on dual-use items, which India just joined, and the Missile Technology Control Regime,” Juster said. “We also expect, in the very near future, for India to join the Australia Group on chemical and biological weapons.”

The Australia Group is an informal group of countries established in 1985 to help member nations identify exports that need to be controlled to prevent proliferation of chemical and biological weapons.