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US assures India; Obama expresses support for india on Headley case
Published on 13 Apr. 2010 2:00 AM IST
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President Barack Obama assured India that the US is “engaging” Pakistan on the issue of trans-border terrorism and shares New Delhi’s concerns over terror outfits plotting attacks on India’s cities during a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He also expressed full support for India’s request for access to David Coleman Headley, a key plotter of the Mumbai massacre who is currently in US custody, according to Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.
Obama’s assurances on India’s key concerns came at a 50-minute bilateral meeting Sunday at Blair House, the presidential guest house across the road from the White House, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought US support in tackling “the menace of terrorism”.
“Terrorist onslaught in our region, if it persisted, could affect our growth prospects,” Manmohan Singh told Obama at their first meeting since they met at the first state dinner of the Obama presidency in November last year. Reminding Obama that terrorism “was an issue on which India and the US stood on the same side,” Manmohan Singh focused on the volatile situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan and stressed “how this menace was tackled would determine the future of the South Asian region.” The White House, however, in a brief statement on the talks merely said “they also discussed a number of regional and global issues, including counter-terrorism and non-proliferation” without naming either Pakistan or Mumbai terror attacks.
The two leaders also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and their shared vision for a strong, stable, and prosperous South Asia, it said.
“In this context, President Obama welcomed the humanitarian and development assistance that India continues to provide to Afghanistan,” the White House said echoing Rao’s assertion that there is no disconnect between New Delhi and Washington on India’s role in Afghanistan. The meeting took place on the eve of the Nuclear Security Summit that aims at securing the world from loose bomb-making materials.
Manmohan Singh and Obama sat at the centre of Garden Room, flanked by their respective delegations.
The eight-member Indian delegation included National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, India’s Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar and senior officials of the external affairs ministry. The 11-member US delegation included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Advisor James Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robert Blake and senior officials.
Manmohan Singh began his four-day visit to the US Sunday, his sixth visit to the country during his prime ministerial tenure. Rao said the prime minister took up the issue of Headley, the activities of LeT and its founder-ideologue Hafiz Saeed, the suspected mastermind of the Mumbai assault and Ilyas Kashmiri, another Pakistan-based terrorist leader linked with Headley.
He also pointed out continuing militant incursions across the Line of Control, the de facto border between the two countries in divided Kashmir. When Obama spoke about reducing tensions between India and Pakistan, Manmohan Singh drew his attention to Islamabad’s dilly-dallying over the prosecution of those involved in the Mumbai massacre.
“Unfortunately, there was no will on the part of Pakistan to punish those responsible for the terrorist attacks in Mumbai,” Rao quoted Manmohan Singh as telling Obama. “This is where the partnership of India and US could make the difference,” said Manmohan Singh.
Obama, according to Rao, told Manmohan Singh that India has the goodwill and the understanding of the US in this regard. “Obama fully understood our concerns about LeT and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan” and said “the US is engaging Pakistan on these issues”.
Obama told Manmohan Singh that “the US would be sensitive to the issues that we have raised in the context of security assistance to Pakistan” and assured him that the aid would be monitored and kept under observation keeping India’s interests in mind.
About cooperation between India and the US on counterterrorism, Obama told Manmohan Singh that “they were working through the legal system, on the issue of provision of access to David Coleman Headley”. “He was fully supportive of our request for provision of such access,” said Rao.
Obama also told Manmohan Singh that he shared his vision for South Asia. He said the US fully appreciated India’s interests in Afghanistan and recognised the enormous sacrifices that India has made to stabilise that country and “expressed support for India’s continuing contributions in Afghanistan’s development”.
On India-Pakistan relations, when Obama said the US favoured reduction of tensions between the two countries, Manmohan Singh again stressed the need for Pakistan to take convincing action against those involved in Mumbai attacks.

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