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Growing India and US relationship touches new milestone; two countries to share terror information

As per the arrangement both sides shall provide each other access to terrorism screening information through the designated contact points

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Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and US ambassador Richard Verma exchange files on Thursday
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The growing relationship between India and USA touched a new milestone on Thursday with the two countries inking an arrangement for exchange of terrorist screening information.

The arrangement was hanging fire for past one year because of the US's reluctance to share its prime terror data base - Terrorist screening centre (TSC) maintained by the FBI. TSC consolidates several terrorist watch lists maintained by different US agencies into a single Terrorist Screening Data base for identifying those known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activity. It helps in forewarning of a possible conspiracy of terror attack by tracking and analytic tools.

The arrangement was signed by the union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and US Ambassador Richard Verma. As per the arrangement, both sides shall provide each other access to terrorism screening information through the designated contact points, subject to domestic laws and regulations.

It is being called an arrangement and not an agreement because the information sharing will still be subject to the domestic laws and regulations, sources said. Apparently, the reason of US's reluctance include tough federal laws on privacy that makes data sharing with other countries very tough. Yet the arrangement is expected to enhance counter terrorism cooperation between India and USA.

By inking this quid-pro-quo arrangement, sources said, both countries are expected to gain.

"We are not strong in international data base and its analytics. Moreover, USA also closely watches all social media platforms to keep an eye on the potential trouble makers. Being weak in breaking through the firewalls of social media platforms, we can use US expertise in this field. Similarly, US has scant knowledge of India's neighbourhood where we can be of help, " sources added.

Earlier, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had put its foot down about the deal saying that unless US agrees to share its terrorist data, the arrangement would protect only American interests. The IB note said that Indian concerns must also be taken up since the proposed agreement clearly disproportionately furthers the efforts of the US side to protect its homeland.

The arrangement in its earlier form allowed all repositories of data on terrorism that India holds to be shared with the US but not vis-a-versa.

Benefits both the nations

By inking this quid-pro-quo arrangement, sources said, both countries are expected to gain.

"We are not strong in international data base and its analytics. Moreover, USA also closely watches all social media platforms to keep an eye on the potential trouble makers. Being weak in breaking through the firewalls of social media platforms, we can use US expertise in this field. Similarly, US has scant knowledge of India's neighbourhood where we can be of help, " sources added.

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