US promises India any help in dealing with Mumbai attacks

December 4th, 2008 - 12:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Dec 4 (IANS) The United States has told India that it was willing to help in any way it can and provide any type of assistance it may need in dealing with the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks.Two top State department officials - Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns - conveyed this assurance to Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon during his just concluded two-day visit.

“They clearly talked about the issue of the Mumbai attacks and the aftermath and the type of cooperation that we all need to give to finding out who was responsible,” State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters Wednesday.

They also talked “about our efforts - in our discussions with Pakistan - to get the government there to do all it can to help with the investigation. So that was the essence of the conversation”, he said.

Asked if Menon had sought any additional US help, Wood said: “Well, I don’t want to really get into the substance of the conversations, but let me just say that we have said to the Indians that we’re willing to help in any way we can.”

“We have an investigative team on the ground in Mumbai, trying to assist the Indians with the investigation. And we’re certainly open to any type of assistance the Indians may need,” he added.

Wood said he was not aware of any briefings that the State Department may have done for President-elect Barack Obama on the Mumbai attacks, “but I can’t certainly rule that out”.

“There may have been conversations between individuals of the Administration and President-elect Obama’s team, but I’m not aware of any,” he said.

At the White House, spokesperson Dana Perino declined to say if President George Bush supported India’s call for Pakistan to extradite leaders of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistan based terror group which is prime suspect of the attacks that left at least 183 people dead last week.

Noting that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen were in the region, she said: “Let them report back to the president before I would comment on that.”

“Obviously six American citizens were killed and many others were negatively affected. So this feels a little bit different to us and we expect that Pakistan would cooperate fully, transparently, and follow this to its conclusion,” Perino said.

“But I don’t think I can presuppose what they’re going to come back and tell the president,” she added.

Asked if the US saw any linkage between the Pakistani government and the terrorists, Perino noted Rice had declined to comment before the investigation has some time to reach more conclusions.

But “some of the things that we do know about individuals coming from Pakistan are more well known, but I don’t think that anybody is making a direct link to state sponsor”, she added.

Asked to comment on a top Congressional panel’s description of Pakistan as “the intersection of nuclear weapons and terrorism”, Perino said: “I have no reason to disagree with it.”

Asked if Mullen and Rice were trying to prevent an escalation of tension between India and Pakistan, she said: “Well, we certainly have over the past seven years - if you remember in 2001, we had a similar situation where India and Pakistan tensions had increased dramatically.

“We have something called a composite dialogue which we have tried to use to help the two countries establish open lines of communication, which they have been using over the past week, which is something that they didn’t have just a few years ago.

“So we’re continuing to try to help them have open lines of communication. The Pakistanis have said to the Indians that they will cooperate and that they will participate in the investigation. We think that that’s positive,” she said.

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