US wants India, Pakistan to cooperate; Biden may be on way

January 9th, 2009 - 10:48 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 9 (IANS) The US wants India and Pakistan to enhance cooperation to find out who carried out the Nov 26 Mumbai terrorist attacks, and cooperate much more closely on fighting terrorism.State Department Spokesman Robert Wood Thursday said he was not aware whether the Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was on his way here with evidence of Pakistan’s hand in the Mumbai attacks or whether Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s upcoming trip to Southwest Asia was connected with the assault.

“I’m not aware that Senator Biden did” have any consultation with the Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on his trip to South Asia, he said. “I’d refer you to his office for more details on his trip.”

“I’m not aware that Foreign Minister Mukherjee is on his way here. I’ll take a look and see. I’m not aware of that,” Wood said.

“But what’s important - and I think we’ve seen this - is that India and Pakistan are cooperating on trying to find out who actually carried out these attacks in Mumbai,” he said. “The cooperation needs to be enhanced.”

“We’ve made that point to both sides,” Wood said. “And we’ll continue to encourage both of them to work not only on trying to find out who the culprits were about this but also to cooperate much more closely on fighting terrorism.”

Biden was in Kuwait Thursday on his way to southwest Asia, according to US media reports which suggest his next destinations maybe Afghanistan, Pakistan or India.

Biden is travelling in his role as a US senator from Delaware. He takes office as vice president Jan 20 but has not yet resigned his Senate seat.

Biden’s trip just days before becoming vice president was seen as a clear signal that President-elect Barack Obama’s new administration plans to make the troubled region an immediate priority.

Biden, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had planned to travel with senator John Kerry, incoming chairman of the committee, and senators Jack Reed and Susan Collins. Those three bowed out of the group, citing Senate votes scheduled this weekend.

Biden was sworn in for a seventh term Tuesday, a move similar to what Lyndon Johnson did while in the same situation in 1960 when he also was vice president-elect.

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