India, US to begin internal security dialogue, talk terror

Terror will top the agenda when Home Minister and US Homeland Security Secretary meet on Friday.

Last Updated: May 25, 2011, 18:27 PM IST

New Delhi: Terror will top the agenda when US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Home Minister P Chidambaram meet on Friday for the first formal dialogue on internal security between the two countries.

The talks coincide with the trial in Chicago of Mumbai terror attack accused Tahawwur Rana during which Pakistani-born American terrorist David Coleman Headley has linked Pakistan`s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group.

With counter-terror ties on top of the list, Napolitano and Chidambaram are also expected to discuss financial fraud, counterfeiting and illicit movement of money, according to sources in the home ministry.
Napolitano arrived in India on a four-day visit Tuesday to boost counter-terrorism ties between two sides. Her first stop was in Mumbai where she paid tributes to the victims of the Mumbai attack and laid a wreath at a police memorial there.

She held talks with Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who stressed on the need for cooperation with the US, including sharing intelligence and technological know-how for enhancing security.

The agenda for talks is expected to include the recent killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and information sharing related to the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

Experts here say the meeting is critical in the US-India strategic dialogue and is expected to further their communication and information-sharing ties on counterterrorism and security issues.
KP Vijayalakshmi, head of the Centre for Canadian, US and Latin American Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the visit was important as it happens when India`s neighbourhood is facing security threats in the aftermath of Osama`s death.

"That brings us to the question whether the war on terror is really about Osama or beyond. And my view is that it is beyond. And clearly Napolitano`s visit, I see it in that perspective, that counter-terrorism efforts means there is still a war on terror to be fought," Vijayalakshmi told IANS.

She said the two sides would be looking at three main things -- the global supply chain, combating illicit financing and enhancing cyber security -- during the talks.

Napolitano in a press conference before her visit said the US and India would also concentrate on cyber security.

The threat assessment in the region from various terror groups will also be on the agenda, the sources said.

India has recently stepped up its security along its coastline and borders. Top leaders, led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have twice in the past three weeks taken stock of the country`s preparedness in the event of Pakistan slipping into chaos.

Pakistan`s ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha had in a recent media interview said that any Indian "Abbottabad-like" attack would invite a befitting response from Pakistan as targets inside the country "had already been identified" and "rehearsals" carried out.

IANS