India today sought further access to LeT operative David Headley and his accomplice Tahawwur Rana currently in US jail,with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna asking Washington to help bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
“India’s interest in further access to Headley and Rana,in accordance with our legal procedures,for the investigations into the Mumbai terror attack of November 2008,was raised,” Krishna told reporters at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after the Strategic Dialogue which was co-chaired by them.
In response to a question on Pakistani-American Headley (51) and Pakistani-Canadian Rana (50),Clinton said the two countries are sharing information related to terrorism and other related issues.
“With respect to information-sharing it is our policy and practice to share information,and we do that. I’m not going to go into details because we think our co-operation on intelligence-sharing,on homeland security issues,on counter-terrorism has gotten to a new level,” she said.
“It is very important to both of our countries. But it’s also important that,you know,we support the work that is done by our professionals and our experts in protecting both of our countries,and I think we are satisfied that that is occurring,” Clinton said.
Later at a separate news conference,Krishna said terrorism has been one of the main subjects of his discussions with India.
“She understands India’s concerns and how India has become a victim over a period of time of terrorist attacks coming across from Pakistan,” Krishna said,adding that the United States fully understands India’s position.
Headley has pleaded guilty to 12 terrorism charges,including his involvement in the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that claimed 166 lives.
Last year,Rana was also convicted of providing material support to the terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. However,he was acquitted of conspiring to provide material support to the conspiracies to bomb public places in Mumbai.
The issue of Headley and Rana has not only been taken up by Krishna with Clinton during his talks,Union Home Secretary R K Singh specifically took up the issue with his American counterparts during the talks here.
Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said at this point of time India is seeking further access to Rana and Headley.
“We are looking for access right now. It is an ongoing process. Discussions are still going on. Question of extradition would come after that,” he said.
In fact in the joint statement issued at the end of the Strategic Dialogue,India and the US reiterated their pledge to bring to justice those responsible for the Mumbai attacks.
“They (Clinton and Krishna) reiterated their commitment to bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008 and to comprehensive sharing of information on the investigations and trials relating to that attack,” the joint statement said.
Clinton and Krishna lauded the growing collaboration on counter-terrorism in the 13th meeting of the India-US Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism held on June 1 in Washington and the outcomes of the 2nd meeting of the Coordinating Committee of Global Forum for Counter Terrorism (GCTF) held in Istanbul on June 6-7,the statement said.
“They reiterated their commitment to further strengthening bilateral and multilateral counter-terrorism co-operation,including through intelligence sharing,information exchange,operational cooperation,and access to advanced counter-terrorism technology and equipment,” it said.
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