NEW DELHI: In a major breakthrough, the United States has reportedly agreed to help India in tracking down underworld don and Mumbai serial blasts mastermind Dawood Ibrahim who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan.
According to Zee Media, the agreement between the United States and India in hunting the fugitive underworld don and his close aides was reached during the first-ever 2+2 dialogue that took place in New Delhi on Thursday.
It has emerged that the US Administration of President Donald Trump, which has declared Dawood a global terrorist and announced a bounty of USD 20 million on his head, has assured India to bring the perpetrators of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case to bring bars.
The US has also agreed to exert more pressure on Pakistan to rein in various terror outfits operating from its soil and dismantle their network.
A joint statement issued by the two sides mentioned the launch of a bilateral dialogue on the designation of terrorists in 2017, strengthening the action against terror groups, which reportedly includes 'D-Company and their affiliates'.
During the discussion, America shared India's concern that Pakistan continues to allow Mumbai attack mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed roam free despite the reward the US has placed on his head for his role in terror activities.
During the 2+2 India, US dialogue, the two sides concluded that elimination of terrorism was crucial for global peace and stability.
The stern warning to Pakistan came after India and the US held their first 2+2 dialogue here during which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held wide-ranging deliberations with US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis.
"The ministers announced their intent to increase information-sharing efforts on known or suspected terrorists and to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2396 on returning foreign terrorist fighters," a joint statement issued after the talks said.
"The ministers denounced any use of terrorist proxies in the region, and in this context, they called on Pakistan to ensure that the territory under its control is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries," it said.
Ahead of the 10th anniversary of the 2008 Mumbai attack, they also called on Pakistan to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot (2016), Uri (2016), and other cross-border terrorist attacks, the statement said.
Addressing a joint press conference, Swaraj said the Indo-US counter-terrorism cooperation has acquired a new "qualitative edge and purpose".
"We welcomed the recent designations of Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists by the United States. They underscore the international community's scrutiny over the threat of terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which has affected India and the United States alike. In the 10th anniversary of the 26/11 attacks, we recognised the importance of justice and retribution for the masterminds behind this terrorist attack," she said.
Sitharaman, in her remarks, said India and the US were committed to work together to combat the "persistent threat of terrorism" and other shared security challenges.
The ministers committed to enhance their ongoing cooperation in multilateral fora such as the UN and Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and reaffirmed their support for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that will advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation and reinforce the message that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism, the joint statement said.
"The ministers welcomed the launch of a bilateral dialogue on the designation of terrorists in 2017, which is strengthening cooperation and action against terrorist groups, including Al-Qaida, ISIS, LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, D-Company, and their affiliates," it said.
The two sides further reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing and future cooperation to ensure a stable cyberspace environment and to prevent cyber attacks.
Swaraj said India recognises the value of the Terrorists Designations Dialogue established last year as well as other mechanisms to promote cooperation in counter-terrorism and homeland security.
"We also discussed the situation in South Asia in some detail. India supports President Trump's South Asia Policy. His call for Pakistan to stop its policy of supporting cross-border terrorism finds resonance with us," she said.
The talks among other key outcomes culminated in the signing of Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA). Sitharaman and Mattis signed the pact as two of the most powerful men in the world negotiated with two top women ministers of India.
The agreement between India and the US assumes significance as JuD led by Saeed was declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014. Saeed also carries a USD 10 million American reward on his head for his role in terror activities.
The JuD is a front for the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) that carried out the deadly 2008 Mumbai attack.
India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to re-investigate the Mumbai terror attack case and also demanded a trial of Saeed and LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in the light of the evidence it had provided to Islamabad.
Ten LeT militants killed 166 people, including American nationals, and wounded dozens in Mumbai in November 2008.
Nine of the attackers were killed by police, while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught and executed after a court found him guilty and awarded death sentence.
(With PTI inputs)