With Mumbai on mind, US sends Kerry, Negroponte to India

December 10th, 2008 - 9:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNew Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) With India wary of “token strikes” by Pakistan on terror camps, the US is set to step up pressure on Islamabad to take concrete action in a bid to defuse tensions in the region. The US is sending Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and influential Democratic Senator John Kerry here later this week. Negroponte will be coming to New Delhi Friday after some tough-talking in Islamabad, reliable sources, who did not wish to be named, told IANS.

He comes here 10 days after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited New Delhi and asked Pakistan to take action against what Islamabad termed “non-state actors”. Pakistan must cooperate “urgently and transparently” with India in the probe into the Nov 26 Mumabi terror attacks, she said.

Indian security agencies have collected more evidence since Rice’s visit last week and are now zeroing in on the list of “ISI handlers” of the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror strikes. New Delhi is likely to share additional evidence with Washington when Indian officials meet Negroponte, the sources said.

With Pakistan dilly-dallying over banning Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a militant outfit widely considered to be a successor to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that is suspected of having masterminded the Mumbai carnage, India is going to seek the US’ support in getting the UN Security Council to declare JuD a terrorist organisation.

Kerry, who is set to take over as chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will be in India on a two-day visit starting Sunday.

He will be carrying an important message from US president-elect Barack Obama underlining the intensification of counter-terror efforts between the two countries in the incoming administration.

Kerry will also be sharing notes on the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Obama administration’s strategy of dealing with the hardline militia that are hostile to Indian interests, the sources said.

Both Negroponte and Kerry are likely to tell New Delhi and Islamabad to refrain from escalating tensions in the region which could jeopardise the US’ plan to focus on defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The US has cautiously reacted to raids by Pakistani security agencies on LeT operatives.

“I think what we’re seeing are some positive steps (from Pakistan). It’s also incumbent upon the Pakistani government to act to prevent any future terrorist attacks, to break up those networks that may be responsible for perpetrating acts of violent extremism…,” US State Department spoksman Sean McCormack said in Washington after the arrest of LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi Tuesday.

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