New Delhi: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday asserted that India and US should stand together in defence of religious freedom rights for all.

Delivering a speech at the India International Centre, Pompeo said, “India is the birthplace of four major world religions. Let’s stand up together in defence of religious freedom for all, let us speak out in favour of those rights, for whenever we do compromise those rights, the world is worse off.”

Pompeo also praised PM Modi’s for his stand on terrorism and said that he was pleased that Masood Azhar was designated as a global terrorist last month.

“Just a few weeks ago, PM Narendra Modi called for all nations to fight terrorism. We are pleased to see United Nations Sanctions Committee designating Masood Azhar, last month,” he said.

Likening PM Modi with US President Donald Trump, he said, “Right now, we have two leaders in President Trump and PM Modi, who are not afraid to take risks where its appropriate. Let’s see each other with new eyes and embrace the age of ambition.”

Pompeo hailed India for cutting off oil imports from sanctions-hit Iran and desisting from buying petroleum products from Venezuela and promised to do “everything” possible to ensure that the energy-hungry country gets adequate crude.

The Secretary of State also welcomed India’s “assertiveness” in international matters and pitched for a “new kind” of Indo-US cooperation, leaving behind the “nagging misconceptions” and “distrust” witnessed in the earlier era which “still lingers”.

Pompeo, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar earlier in the day, said the two sides spoke about “new age of ambitions of our proud nations”. Both the countries acknowledged that there were the “outstanding issues” related to trade between both the countries but vowed to work as “friends” to remove the differences. Further, both the countries also resolved to strengthen their ties in diverse areas, including defence and fight against terrorism.

Pompeo asserted that great friends are bound to have disagreements. “Washington and New Delhi need to solve trade issues as there are millions of opportunity before the two countries.”