US asks Pakistan for ‘most committed’ help in Mumbai terror probe

December 1st, 2008 - 11:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghWashington, Dec 1 (IANS) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday said the US has told Pakistan to help in the investigation of Mumbai terror attacks in “the most committed and firmest possible way”.”What we’re emphasising to the Pakistani government is the need to follow the evidence wherever it leads, and to do that in the most committed and firmest possible way,” said Rice, who is going to India at the behest of President George Bush to show US solidarity.

The White House Sunday announced Rice will travel to India Wednesday at the request of Bush as a “further demonstration” of US solidarity with New Delhi in the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai.

Bush also Sunday assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of a “shared commitment” to combat terrorism and asked Rice to visit India and US agencies to throw their weight behind the Mumbai terror attack investigations.

Rice will arrive in New Delhi Wednesday, on the heels of an already scheduled trip to attend a NATO meeting in Brussels Tuesday.

Talking to reporters on her way to London, Rice said she had spoken to both Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, while Bush’s National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley had spoken with his counterpart M.K. Narayanan.

“And on all scores, the Pakistanis have emphasised their desire to get to the bottom of this and to help in any way that they can,” she added, according to the transcript of the interaction released by the State Department.

“And so I don’t want to jump to any conclusions myself on this,” Rice said when asked if she believed the Pakistani government when it says there was absolutely no Pakistani involvement at all in view of a captured terrorist’s confession that they were trained in Pakistan.

“But I do think this is a time for complete, absolute, total transparency and cooperation. And that’s what we expect,” she added.

Asked if she was going to New Delhi with any specific ideas for the Indians, Rice said: “We’ve already had very good cooperation with India, and we have a number of US government agencies that are helping support in any way that we can the investigation.”

“Obviously, information is the long pole in the tent when one deals with terrorist situations. But of course, we have been concerned about this for some time. The embassy bombing in Kabul was reason for concern. And so we will help and cooperate in any way that we can,” Rice said.

“In terms of Pakistan, again, the Pakistani government has said that it will be cooperating, it wants to cooperate, and that it’s prepared to follow the leads wherever they go. And that’s what we expect,” she said.

Whether the Pakistani government should send its head of intelligence to India was a decision for Islamabad to take, Rice said. “But I do think that it is extremely important that there be the highest levels of cooperation between Pakistan and India at this point, and that means all institutions.”

“And I assume that there is going to be law enforcement cooperation as well as intelligence cooperation in getting to the bottom of this.”

Asked if the US was concerned that this could escalate Pakistan-India tensions to the point of actual conflict, Rice said: “I’d just note that the lines of communication are open between them; that when I speak with the Indians, they talk about the very good initial statements from the Pakistani government.”

“They have talked on the telephone. This is a different relationship than it was a number of years ago. Obviously, they share a common enemy, because extremists in any form are obviously a threat to the Pakistanis as well as to the Indians.”

“So this obviously is a difficult task for this new Pakistani government. It’s still early in the civilian government’s existence. But in speaking with President Zardari and in speaking with the Foreign Minister (Mukherjee), they know that this is a time to step up to the task that they’ve got,” Rice said.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |