Obama assures India of steadfast support in fighting terror (Lead, changing dateline)

December 2nd, 2008 - 1:24 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Dec 1 (IANS) Asserting that sovereign nations have a right to protect themselves, US President-elect Barack Obama Monday assured India that he was absolutely committed to remove the threat of terrorism wherever it may exist.Obama, who takes over from President George W. Bush Jan 20, said his administration would be “steadfast in supporting India in its efforts to catch the perpetrators (of Mumbai terror attacks) and bring them to justice”.

“Both myself and my team are absolutely committed to remove the threat of terrorism wherever it may exist,” he said introducing his national security team, including his rival for Democratic presidential nomination Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and present Defence Secretary Robert Gates in the same position.

Asked if he backed India’s right to go into Pakistan in case it found the terror threat originated from there, Obama, who during the election campaign advocated US taking similar action as it fights the Taliban on the porous Pakistan-Afghan border, said: “Sovereign nations have a right to protect themselves.”

Beyond that he would not comment on the specific situation relating to the India terror attacks as an investigation was still on. But he and his administration would remain “steadfast in its efforts to catch the perpetrators and bring them to justice”.

His newly minted team would do everything not only to keep America safe, but also to bring about a “new dawn of American leadership” that integrates military, diplomacy, law enforcement and the economy, he said at a news conference in Chicago.

“The team that we have assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that,” he said. “They share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America’s role as leader in the world,” Obama said.

Obama said he had spoken with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and was closely monitoring the situation in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks. “Thus far the Bush administration has done what is needed.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of India,” he added.

The president-elect said his expectation was that Pakistan too would extend India all cooperation in investigating the attacks as assured by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.

Obama also named Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary, Eric Holder as attorney general, retired Marine Gen. James Jones as national security adviser and long-time adviser Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations.

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