`Headley issue didn’t hijack Indo-US dialogue`
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Last Updated: Tuesday, June 08, 2010, 09:48
Washington: Refuting media reports that the Headley episode had hijacked the last week's Indo-US Strategic Dialogue, a top American official has said that the issue "did not even come up" during the discussion between the two countries.

"Let me just say that this in no way hijacked the strategic dialogue. This didn't even come up in the strategic dialogue," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, said in response to a question that the strategic dialogue was hijacked by the Headley case.

The official pointed out that the issue of access to Headley was "not a topic of great conversation" during the Strategic Dialogue between India and the United States.

"It was not a focus of our discussions," he said.

Asked on the time taken for grating access to Headley, Blake said: "I would dispute your assertion that it took a long time. I mean, these are very sensitive matters, that we wanted to make sure that Mr Headley would be willing to talk, and so a number of things had to be worked out. And let me just leave it at that."

"Well, let me just say that there's been a great deal of transparency and close cooperation between our two governments."

"For obvious law-enforcement reasons, there are many things that we can't share with the press. But again, I think we've had very good and close cooperation on this particular issue. And I think our Indian friends would confirm that," the Assistant Secretary of State said in response to a question.

Replying to questions from Indian journalists from New York (via video-conference) and Washington, Blake insisted that it is much better not to comment on these things while such cases were ongoing.

"So again, there's cooperation that's taking place.. that's very constructive between our two governments that we can't necessarily describe to the press," he said.

Blake said the question of access to David Coleman Headley was addressed by National Security Advisor Gen (Rtd) James Jones in an interview to the Press Trust of India (PTI) over the weekend, in which he said that Indian authorities have been provided with the access.

"I think I'll just leave it there. I'll leave it to the Department of Justice to offer further comment, because they're the ones that are the lead agency on this."

"But as (the US) Ambassador (to India Tim) Roemer and many others have said, our two countries have been engaged intensively on this, and this is another good area of cooperation between the United States and India," Blake said.


First Published: Tuesday, June 08, 2010, 09:48

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