With India gripped in protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday, pitched strongly for H-1B visa holders, reiterated the significant contribution made by the movement of persons in a fair and non-discriminatory manner to the deepening of bilateral ties between India and the United States.

People-to-people ties have been one of the defining elements of our friendship, Jaishankar told reporters at a joint news conference in Washington with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo along with the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

“We take great pride in the achievements of Indians and Indian-Americans in the United States and their contribution to American society, economy, and polity,” he said.

“Trade and services, including the movement of persons in a fair and non-discriminate discriminatory manner, has contributed significantly to the deepening of ties,” Jaishankar said.

Looking forward to working with the US side to nurture and sustain these ties, Jaishankar said the two countries have agreed to take steps to promote better understanding and awareness around among each other’s stakeholders who are connected at multiple levels.

“We’ve arrived at a common intent to facilitate regular exchanges between our parliamentarians and also to provide short-term internship opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to through dedicated programmes,” he said.

He also praised Secretary Pompeo for reiterating the US governments support to the Chhabahar project, which he said will immensely benefit Afghanistan. Referring to the ongoing negotiations on the subject of trade, he exuded confidence that they will find a balanced outcome that satisfies both sides. “India and the United States have an excellent cooperation in science and technology and we have concluded and brought into effect a new agreement that facilitates science and technology cooperation,” he said.

“We have also today reached an agreement on water resources between our ministry and the US geological survey for collaboration and quality assessment of the management of water,” the minister said.

Mike Pompeo said that the United States and India are working on a fair and reciprocal trade deal.

“Over the last 24 months, US crude and LNG exports to India have increased by more than USD 6 billion. That is great for the United States and it is great for India as well. I am especially proud of how we are pursuing a common vision for the region with allies and partners,” he said.