Bringing Mumbai perpetrators to book top priority: Negroponte (Lead)

December 12th, 2008 - 9:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) Asking Pakistan to “act forcefully” against terrorist outfits, the US Friday said it was cooperating with India in probing the Mumbai terror strikes and underlined the “responsibility” of the international community in bringing the perpetrators of the attack to book. “We think it is imperative that these attacks be thoroughly investigated and we think it is also imperative that those responsible for perpetrating these attacks be brought to account,” visiting US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told reporters here.

“So the effort at the moment is concentrated on investigating these attacks and bringing those responsible to account,” said Negroponte, who arrived here Friday on a day-long visit, after visiting Islamabad.

“We’re cooperating in this effort, obviously the government of India is in the lead, but all of our diplomatic partners have a responsibility to contribute to this effort,” Negroponte said.

His remarks reflected a growing perception that the international community needs to proactively deal with the ramifications of the Mumbai attacks which have been seen as not just an attack on India but as part of the global scourge in which 26 foreigners were among 179 killed.

“We deplore them, we think that these were dastardly acts, and of course in addition to the fact that India has been seriously aggrieved, there were United States casualties as well. So we are also victims of these attacks,” he said.

Negroponte met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and discussed the leads gathered by US security agencies that appeared to confirm India’s accusation that elements from Pakistan were directly involved in Mumbai’s bloody terror assaults, reliable sources said.

Negroponte briefed Mukherjee on his interaction with Pakistani leaders during his visit to Islamabad Thursday and his message to them to widen the crackdown on anti-terror outfits in that country, sources said.

Negroponte came here a day after Pakistan clamped down on Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD), a front organisation for the Laskhar-e-Taiba suspected of masterminding the Mumbai attacks.

While underlining the need for concrete and urgent action by Pakistan against terrorist apparatus in that country, he also advised India to be restrained and pursue diplomatic options in dealing with Pakistan, the sources added.

Conveying the sense of deep anger and outrage in India, Mukherjee told his US interlocutor about growing perception in New Delhi that Islamabad needs to move beyond tokenism and focus on dismantling the entire terrorist infrastructure in that country, the sources said.

Negroponte also met National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and discussed the US experience in dealing with trans-national terror threats after the 9/11 terror attacks in New York and Washington.

Negroponte’s India trip comes 10 days after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited New Delhi and asked Islamabad to take action against “non-state actors”, saying Pakistan must cooperate “urgently and transparently” with India in the probe into the Mumbai terror attacks.

In Washington, Rice sent a clear message to Islamabad to act forcefully against terror outfits that India suspcts of plotting and executing the Mumbai carnage. “Frankly, the US has better relations with India and Pakistan than in 2001-02. But it is obviously a dangerous situation, and Pakistan needs to act and act forcefully,” she stressed.

“And I think the Indians rightly were concerned to make sure that the perpetrators are brought to justice and that follow-on attacks are prevented,” she said.

According to The Dawn, a Pakistani daily, Negroponte had shared a list with his Pakistani interlocutors that contains names of lesser-known groups like the Pasban Ahle-e-Hadith against whom Washington wants Islamabad to take action.

The US diplomat has asked Islamabad to continue action against the LeT and to expand the scope of the operations to other “groups that may be linked with subversive activities in India”, the daily said.

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