Indo-US counter-terror coop priority for US: Blake

Counter-terrorism co-operation with India is a very top priority for the US so as to prevent future terrorist attacks such as the 2008 Mumbai carnage, a top American official said, ahead of a crucial bilateral strategic dialogue.

Last Updated: Jul 09, 2011, 00:44 AM IST

Washington: Counter-terrorism co-operation
with India is a very top priority for the US so as to prevent
future terrorist attacks such as the 2008 Mumbai carnage,
a top American official said on Friday, ahead of a crucial
bilateral strategic dialogue.

"I do not see any limits on our counter terrorism
cooperation with India," Assistant Secretary of State for
South and Central Asia Robert Blake told reporters during a
web-chat hosted by the US State Department.
"This is a very high priority for the United States to
look with our Indian friends to ensure they have the best
system possible to prevent future terrorist attacks such as
the terrible attack that occurred in Mumbai in November 2008,"
he said, ahead of the important visit of the Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton to New Delhi later this month, the dates
of which are yet to be announced.

He said one of the hallmarks of India-US cooperation
over the last several years has been the increase in their
counter terrorism cooperation. "We are looking to build on
that," he underlined.

The two countries, he said, just had a very successful
Homeland Security Dialogue that was chaired and led by
Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano who went out
to New Delhi in May to meet Union Home Minister P Chidambaram.

"They had very successful meetings on a wide range of
new collaborative arrangement to expand on homeland security
cooperation and counter terrorism cooperation," Blake
stressed.
"We do not in any way try to hyphenate that with
Pakistan or with any other country. We do it on its own merit.
We attach a very high priority," the top diplomat underlined.

He underscored the tremendous respect and admiration
the US has for the steps that India has taken to expand its
own cooperation with Afghanistan.

Blake said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently had
a very successful visit to Afghanistan where he pledged to
raise the total amount of assistance that India will be
providing to Afghanistan to USD 2 billion, which will help in
the important transition process that is underway now in
Afghanistan.

He said the US is not only fully committed to
supporting that but also helping Afghanistan build up its own
economy so that it relies more on trade and development and
less on foreign aid.

He underlined the US commitment to Afghanistan saying
"there is a lot of misunderstanding" about US troop
withdrawals, which will be "relatively modest."

"We will continue to work with India very closely on
this. This would be a very important part of our strategic
dialogue process," Blake said.

PTI