Kerry meets Manmohan, says US will keep pressure on Pakistan

December 15th, 2008 - 2:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) Sustaining international pressure on Pakistan, influential US Senator John Kerry Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and reaffirmed the US determination to work with India in bringing the Mumbai terror masterminds to book. Kerry conveyed president-elect Barack Obama’s message about the US intention to keep pressuring Pakistan in order to eliminate the terrorist infrastructure in that country, reliable sources told IANS.

Kerry, who will be chairperson of the Senate Committee for Foreign Relations in the Obama administration, also assuaged India’s concerns following Obama’s remarks about appointing a special envoy for Jammu and Kashmir saying the US had no intention of intervening in a bilateral dispute, the sources said.

Responding to India’s concerns about the involvement of Pakistan-based terrorist groups in the Nov 26 Mumbai carnage, Kerry shared with the prime minister the Obama administration’s plan to pressure Pakistan into bringing the spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) under civilian control.

Kerry, who came to New Delhi Sunday, is also scheduled to meet External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Briefing journalists Sunday, Kerry had said the Obama administration was interested in seeing “an ISI that is reforming and brought completely under civilian control”. He also sought to call Pakistan’s bluff saying that groups like the Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) were formed by the ISI but the present civilian government is keen to sever those links.

“They formed it and they know they formed it. But they didn’t know that the LeT would graduate into an enterprise of its own,” he said.

He, however, did not link the ISI with the Mumbai attacks.

“Let me also make it clear that I don’t think there is any evidence that these attacks (Mumbai) link up with this establishment or for that matter even the ISI, unless at some lower levels.”

Kerry also made it clear that the incoming administration would do its best to ensure that the Pakistan government has to disassociate itself completely from LeT, the outfit accused by India of masterminding the Mumbai mayhem, and other such groups.

“The Pakistan government has to convincingly separate itself from the LeT. There is no capacity to tolerate the intolerable. President-elect Obama will be tough on that. Anyone expecting a diversion is wrong,” Kerry said.

Lauding India’s “responsible approach” after the Mumbai attacks, Kerry said the US was “grateful” at the way New Delhi has handled a “sensitive situation”.

Kerry’s visit to India is aimed at easing tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours that could derail 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.

He is likely to travel to Islamabad later in the day.

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