US, India talks to focus on choking off terrorists lifeline

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Washington: Keen to choke off the life line of terror groups, the US will open a dialogue with India for evolving more effective steps for cyber security and monitor illicit financial transactions, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said on Monday.

On the eve of her first-ever official visit to India, Napolitano said illegal smuggling of cash, financial fraud, counterfeiting, illicit movement of money are some of the major items on the agenda as it pertained to terrorism.

"…to choke off the life line of some of these terrorist organizations… to open a dialogue that includes cyber security which is necessary to protect the networks that are critical infrastructure," she told PTI.

"Both of our countries are very concerned on how we can confront issues like critical internet response in a terrorism operation, in a counter-narcotics operations, disaster management," she said ahead of her three-day visit from May 26.

Intelligence sharing and co-operation between the US and India may be at a nascent stage, but the continuing dialogue will help the two countries in a number of areas, she maintained.

"…it is wide ranging, we are bringing a large delegation with us including experts in all of these areas.

So it is really intended to open up, open the door on a number of important topics," she said.

"I would expect that in many of these areas one of the things that they would decided is how they need to proceed, in other words this would be the beginning of the on going process… the US is very committed for cooperation and support in the ongoing terrorism investigations. That being said, I think it would be inappropriate for me to discuss specific information that is being shared or has been shared," she said.

Brushing aside the notion in some quarters in India that Washington is not as forthcoming as it should be in sharing intelligence material with New Delhi as it pertained to terrorism in Pakistan directed against India, Napolitano said that the United States is indeed committed to sharing information with close allies to help protect security.

"We have a joint interest in this. That being said, we do not discuss publicly, the details of this co-operation because protection of sources, investigation is very important to us," she said.

Asked about the Mumbai 26/11 attacks, and if Pakistan`s ISI was involved against the backdrop of what has been transpired in the FBI chargesheets in Chicago, Napolitano argued that there was an "international responsibility" to bring those involved in the heinous crime to book.

"Let me address it this way: after the Mumbai attack, the United States made very clear that there is international responsibility to cooperate and bring the perpetrators to justice," Napolitano said.

Asked about the ongoing trial of Mumbai attack suspect Tahawwur Rana in a Chicago court, she said, "I think that given that the federal trial of Rana is currently under way in Chicago, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any names that would be coming up in that trial."

The Secretary of Homeland Security will have high level talks as a critical component of the bilateral strategic dialogue on counter-terrorism and other issues pertaining to security issues and will be meeting top level officials in India, including Home Minister P Chidambaram.

Given the sensitivities of the goings on, Napolitano parried a question on whether New Delhi can have a favorable response to a request on access to Rana.

"You know what. I think that`s really not a question that I can answer. That is a Justice Department question," she said.

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