US offers India information sharing for maritime security

January 27th, 2009 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 27 (IANS) India’s “vast coastline” posed a “very large challenge” and the Indian and US navies can “share an understanding of process” to secure the country’s territorial waters, a top American military commander said Tuesday.”When we look at maritime security and information sharing, there is a technical and operational challenge to better understand what is in the water,” Admiral Robert F. Willard, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet, told reporters here.

“When we think of India’s vast coastline, there is a very large challenge and our two navies can share an understanding of processes (to secure the country’s territorial waters),” Willard, who is on a visit here, contended.

In this context, he noted that the inking of an agreement to enable the two militaries communicate on a common platform would aid the information sharing process.

The Communications Inter-operability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) is one of three pacts with the US that have been pending for long. The other two are the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) under which the two militaries can refuel ships and aircraft in cashless transactions that are balanced at the end of the year and an end-user agreement on the sale of US military hardware to India.

Of these, the third is proving to be the most contentious since it involves annual inspections by US officials of the use to which the equipment is being put.

Indian officials have often said that “a way out” can be found to avoid physical inspections but Willard said the agreement was “language specific and not open to interpretation.

Willard termed the Mumbai terror attacks “outrageous” and hoped Pakistan, whose nationals India has blamed for the carnage, would quickly take action against the perpetrators.

“The attacks were outrageous by any standards. I hope and pray the perpetrators will be found and action taken against them and also corrective action taken (to prevent the recurrence of such attacks,” he maintained.

“It is important to get the investigations concluded and initiate action against those responsible,” he added.

“The US has been urging restraint on the part of India and action by Pakistan,” the admiral pointed out.

Ten terrorists that India says came from Pakistan had arrived at Mumbai via the sea route Nov 26 and had attacked a series of installations in the city, with the carnage coming to an end after over 60 hours.

More than 170 people, including 26 foreigners, were killed in the attacks and over 300 were injured.

India had Jan 5 submitted a detailed dossier pointing to the involvement of elements from Pakistan in the Mumbai attacks. Pakistan’s interior ministry has constituted a three-member panel to study the dossier and has said it should share the findings of its probe with India.

India has also demanded the arrest of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, two key operatives of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group that India blames for the Mumbai attacks. The duo was held last month during a crackdown on the Jamaat-ud Dawa that the LeT has morphed into and are being held incommunicado at an undisclosed location.

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