Washington: India and US have been "burning
the mid-night oil" and working very hard on the David Headley
case, America`s top envoy to New Delhi said Wednesday, hoping that
Indian investigators will "soon" get to quiz the Pakistani-
American who has confessed to plotting the Mumbai attacks.
However, Timothy Roemer, who was here to attend the first
Cabinet-level Indo-US Strategic Dialogue, was tight-lipped --
like other federal officials -- about the questioning of the
49-year-old LeT operative by an Indian investigators` team
which is in the United States.
"President (Barack) Obama is extremely interested in
resolving this (Headley issue), and our government is very
interested in resolving this," the US Ambassador to India told
reporters at a reception hosted by the US-India Business
"This is symbolic, I think, in many ways of how close we
are working together, shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand,
trying to make sure that both our countries and people are
better protected, sharing intelligence in the middle of the
night and hopefully saving lives doing that," he said.
Roemer said he was hopeful that the "interview with Mr
Headley will take place soon" and it is "symbolic of this
extraordinary cooperation between these two great countries on
counter terrorism issues."
"...I would just remind you that as a 9/11 Commissioner,
we asked for access right after 9/11 to Khalid Sheikh Muhammad
(who was arrested in Pakistan), and ... we could not get
access to Khalid Sheikh Muhammad - the mastermind of 9/11," he
Muhammad is currently in the American custody and faces
the death penalty if convicted of his involvement in the 9/11
"But because this (Headley case) is such an important
thing to India, to the people of India, to the Government of
India because this is so symbolic, because we recognise
Headley`s role in the Mumbai attacks, we are working burning
the mid-night oil and working to make this happen soon,"
"I do not want to comment on how long it would last,
nor precisely on the timing, only to say that that cooperation
has been going on for months for direct access (to Headley),
the Indian and the US intelligence have been sharing
(information) and briefing each other," said the US Ambassador
in response to a question.
The US has been sharing information, which it gets from
Headley, directly with the Indian intelligence, "to try to
protect the next attack and try to understand the terrorist
network and what they are doing," Roemer said.
The US government, starting from the very top, including
President Barack Obama, recognises how important is the issue
of access to Headley, he said.
"He (Obama) told our government to work on this and make
this happen and that`s what we have been doing," he said.
"We are working our fingers to the bone, burning the
mid-night oil, trying to make sure that this does happen and
both the direct and indirect accesses are important for the
Indian people. We are working very hard on both. It very much
shows how important, how historic and how rich this
relationship is," Roemer said.