Kerry in India with Obama’s Mumbai message

December 14th, 2008 - 6:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS) With India not convinced about Pakistan’s crackdown on terror outfits in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, influential US Senator John Kerry arrived here Sunday on a two-day visit with a message of solidarity from the incoming Obama administration to calm tensions in the region. Kerry will meet External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon Monday to discuss the US’ perception of Pakistan’s action against terrorist outfits which India blames for the Nov 26 terror attacks in Mumbai.

Kerry, who will be chairman of the influential Senate Committee for Foreign Relations in the incoming administration, is also expected to call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He is carrying an important message from US president-elect Barack Obama, who takes charge Jan 20, that unveils the incoming administration’s plans for close cooperation between New Delhi and Washington on counter-terrorism and regional issues, reliable sources said.

Kerry’s visit to India comes a couple of days after the trip by US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte who reiterated Washington’s message to Islamabad to “act forcefully” and to bring perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to book.

As Islamabad resorts to diversionary tactics by denying links with the Mumbai attacks and try to cash in on global spotlight by drawing attention to the unresolved Kashmir dispute, Indian officials are likely to tell Kerry that any attempt to link the Mumbai attacks with a bilateral dispute will not be acceptable to India.

New Delhi will also seek Washington’s continued support in putting pressure on Islamabad to move beyond tokenism and take sustained action to dismantle terrorist outfits in India.

Top functionaries of the incoming administration are concerned about the straining ties between India and Pakistan, which could endanger Obama’s plan to focus on defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan by providing Pakistan an excuse to shift troops from the Afghan to the India border.

Intensifying international pressure on Pakistan, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown Sunday held talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh and agreed with India that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based militant outfit, was responsible for the Mumbai attacks.

In a tough message to Islamabad, Brown also said that Pakistan has “a great deal” to answer for and underlined that the international community will support India in the fight against terrorism.

The US has cautiously reacted to raids by Pakistani security agencies on operatives of LeT, a banned militant outfit which is suspected of masterminding the Mumbai carnage.

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