Indo-US talks to focus on counter-terror strategy

American Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security Jane Lute called up Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Tuesday to discuss the agenda of the India-US Homeland Security Dialogue, which will be jointly launched by Chidambaram and Napolitano on May 27.
During the talks between Indian and American delegations led by Chidambaram and Napolitano respectively, New Delhi is likely to ask for access to incarcerated Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who is accused of helping terror-plotter David Coleman Headley in surveying the potential targets for the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.
Both Rana and Headley were arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in October 2009. Apart from helping the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba plot the 26/11, Rana and Headley were also indicted for planning attacks on Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper that had triggered a controversy by publishing some cartoons showing Prophet Muhammad. Rana’s trial began in a court in Chicago last Monday.
New Delhi expects that Rana’s trial in a US court will step up pressure on Pakistan to rein in its Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), which it believes had a role in plotting the 26/11 attack along with the LeT.

The US had in June 2010 allowed sleuths of India’s National Investigation Agency to quiz Headley, after the latter had confessed to having helped plot the 26/11 attack in his plea-bargain.

Napolitano is the first top US official to visit India after the US Navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden at Abbottabad, just 120 km from Pakistani capital Islamabad. New Delhi and Washington are expected to exchange views on the evolving situation in the region in the aftermath of Osama’s killing.

In Gurgaon, US envoy to India Timothy J Roemer said at a counter-terrorism seminar that “terrorism is a crime that affects all countries, and seminars such as this one are an excellent opportunity for the US and India to build the official partnerships and personal relationships that can be critical in a time of crisis.”

The two-week long seminar was conducted by instructors from the US State department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) Programme for 18 senior officials of central and state law enforcement agencies.

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