India to US: Pakistan’s inaction against terror an obstacle to talks (Intro Roundup)

June 10th, 2009 - 11:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) Amid a US push for the resumption of talks with Pakistan, India Wednesday made it clear that although it was keen to normalise strained sub-continental relations, talks can resume only after Islamabad takes concrete action against the 26/11 perpetrators and dismantles the terrorist infrastructure on its soil.
In the first contact between the Obama administration and the Manmohan Singh government since it returned to power last month, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns Wednesday described India as “a major foreign policy priority”.

He held wide-ranging talks with Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon that focused on firming up a comprehensive agenda for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s India visit next month.

Burns also called on External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Home Minister P. Chidambaram. Besides expanding economic and defence ties, the two sides discussed regional and global issues like the situation in the volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan region and non-proliferation.

The Nov 26-29, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, in which six American nationals were among the over 170 killed, also figured prominently in discussions, reliable sources said.

India conveyed its concerns over Pakistan’s “inaction” against the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage and cited the release of Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, the suspected mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, by a Pakistani court last week to underscore Islamabad’s lack of sincerity in addressing India’s concerns over cross-border terrorism, the sources said.

Burns conveyed the US’ view about the need for India and Pakistan to resume talks that, in its opinion, could create a better climate for fighting terrorism and extremism in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

New Delhi, however, made it clear that the resumption of talks can take place only after Pakistan created a propitious atmosphere by dismantling the infrastructure of terrorism and taking tangible action against the Mumbai attackers.

“The most important point is that terror which has been unleashed from the soil of Pakistan directed against India has to be stopped,” Krishna told reporters when asked about the possibility of resumption of talks between India and Pakistan.

“(All) instrumentalities of terrorism which are aimed at India, which is emanating from the Pakistani soil, will have to be dismantled and perhaps then a favourable climate, atmosphere would have been created for the dialogue to be resumed between Pakistan and India,” Krishna maintained.

Krishna’s remarks came amid speculation about a possible meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg June 16.

The two leaders are expected to meet on the sidelines of the summit of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) where the two countries have observer status.

Manmohan Singh Tuesday told parliament that India was prepared to meet Pakistan “more than half-way” if takes action against terrorism and underscored that “it is in India’s vital interests to again try to make peace with Pakistan”. These remarks were interpreted as a sign of India’s readiness to resume the composite dialogue that was stalled after the Mumbai attacks.

Ahead of Burns’s visit, s State Department spokesperson had said the US wanted “more dialogue” between India and Pakistan and that Burns would raise the issue during his discussions here.

Beginning his four-day visit Wednesday, Burns underlined he was in India to “chart an ambitious bilateral agenda together for the next phase of our strategic partnership”.

“President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have sent me with a straightforward message that India is a major foreign policy priority for the US,” said Burns.

“We consider India as a global partner of the US in the 21st century,” he added.

The two sides also discussed the possibility of signing an “end-use verification agreement” for all military purchases India makes from the US, a key step that is expected to give a big push to the US defence sales to India.

Burns is expected to call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani Thursday. He will also meet National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and discuss with him security issues and enhanced intelligence cooperation between the two countries.

Burns leaves Friday for Mumbai, where he will meet Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and captains of business and industry in the city. He is likely to visit the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel that was ravaged during the Mumbai mayhem.

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