India may press US for help in Mumbai terror probe

July 15th, 2011 - 9:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama New Delhi, July 15 (IANS) With no clear leads emerging in the July 13 Mumbai terror strikes, India is likely to press the US for assistance in probing the bombings when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds strategic dialogue with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Tuesday.

Besides counter-terrorism, the two sides will discuss concerns over the nuclear deal and exchange notes on Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Clinton touches down here July 18 on a three-day visit that also includes a trip to Chennai, the hub of top-billing American investments.

Informed sources here said that India and the US have been exchanging information on counter-terrorism and sharing intelligence, particularly since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Sources, however, did not elaborate on the kind of cooperation India may want from the US on the July 13 terror strikes in Mumbai, saying it would not be prudent to go into the specifics at this stage.

Top US counter-terrorism officials, including US Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper and Deputy Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute, are among those accompanying Clinton on her three-day visit that begins Monday.

The Indian delegation would include Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Sam Pitroda, Adviser to the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, Foreign Secretary-designate Ranjan Mathai, the secretaries of home, commerce and environment ministries. Nehchal Sandhu, director, Intelligence Bureau, will also participate in the discussions.

With the Mumbai blasts happening so close to Clinton’s visit, strategies for deepening counter-terror cooperation are set to dominate the talks.

US President Barack Obama was the first world leader to condemn the attacks and offered to help India. Barely a couple of hours after serial blasts ripped across parts of Mumbai Wednesday evening, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns rang up Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and offered the US’ assistance in counter-terrorism.

Sources close to the government said India and the US will discuss an entire gamut of issues including strategic cooperation, energy and climate change, education, science and technology, health and defence.

The two sides are also expected to put their concerns over the nuclear deal on the table.

India will seek a fresh assurance from the US that the new guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group which deny access to enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technologies to countries which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will not impinge on Washington’s commitment to implement full civilian nuclear cooperation with India.

India is also expecting an update on the US’ efforts in pushing New Delhi’s case for becoming a member of the four top global export control regimes that include the NSG, Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). There have been significant progress in this regard, sources said.

When asked about the US’ concerns over the civil nuclear liability law, sources said India has made it clear that it will go by the national law dealing with compensations in case of nuclear accidents, but indicated that the US may have to wait for implementing regulations that will govern the compensation regime.

The situation in Afghanistan would prominently figure in the strategic dialogue. Clinton is expected to brief India on its negotiations with a section of the Taliban and reiterate the importance of India’s role in the reconstruction of that country. Sources said that India has been assured by the US and other interlocutors that the red lines drawn at the London Donor’s Conference and reaffirmed at the Kabul conference on Afghanistan last year would be adhered to while negotiating the terms of reconciliation.

India has made it clear that it is ready to accept a peace deal in which only those Taliban who are ready to sever links with the Taliban-al Qaeda, to renounce violence and accept the Afghan constitution are sought to be accommodated in a future dispensation.

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