Will press Pakistan as hard as possible on terror: US

New Delhi: Admitting that counter-terrorism was "first and foremost" on the minds after last week`s Mumbai bomb blasts, the US today pledged "full" support to India`s efforts to protect itself from terror attacks, and said it will press Pakistan as "hard" as it can on terror.

After the second round of Indo-US Strategic Dialogue with her counterpart External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pointed out that the issue of homeland security and counter-terrorism was given a special emphasis, saying both sides were exploring ways to protect the two countries from the scourge of terrorism.

Asserting that it has been made clear to Pakistan that confronting violent extremism of all sorts is in its interest, Clinton said, "We do not believe that there are any terrorists who should be given safe haven or a free pass by any government, because left unchecked the consequences of that kind of terrorist activity or intimidation can become very difficult to manage and control."

At a joint press conference with Krishna, she said in the aftermath of the attacks of 2008 in Mumbai, the US had made it very clear that there was an absolute international responsibility to cooperate to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The US has made that equally forcefully clear to Pakistan that it has a special obligation to do so transparently, fully and urgently, Clinton said.

"And it is US policy, we believe the perpetrators need to be brought to justice and have urged Pakistan to do so.

Obviously, there is a limit to what both the US and India can do but we intend to continue to press as hard as possible," she said.

She was replying to a query about Pakistan failing to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, raising questions on US` claim of pressurising Pakistan on India-directed terror issue.

Maintaining that the US was encouraged by the discussions between India and Pakistan, Clinton said, "We think this is the most promising approach to encourage both sides to build more confidence between them and work to implement the kinds of steps that will demonstrate the improved atmosphere that is so necessary for us to deal with the underlying problem of terrorism."

Both Krishna and Clinton also underscored the importance of elimination of terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan for regional stability and security and for Pakistan`s future, according to a joint statement after the meeting.

The US Secretary of State said Pakistan was a "key ally" in the fight against terrorism and that the US has made the point repeatedly to its Pakistani colleagues that terrorists threaten both of them. "We recognise that Pakistan must act on its own behalf first and foremost to protect its own territory and sovereignty and to protect the lives of the people of Pakistan," she said.

She said the US has made it clear that it wants a long term relationship with Pakistan based on common interests including a mutual recognition that they cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists anywhere and when we know the location of terrorists whose intentions are clear and need to work together in order to prevent those terrorists from taking innocent lives and threatening institutions of state.

Pointing out that there was a great deal of cooperation between the US and India with respect to counter-terrorism not only sharing of information but also very clear operational discussions, planning and investigation, she said "…lot of the terrorist networks that threaten you also threaten us."

So this is a mutually cooperative and essential operational relationship and in the meantime, the two countries are going to increase our cooperation in this area, she said.