US assures India help in bringing 26/11 culprits to book

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : The United States has assured India all possible assistance as provided within the framework of US law to help bring the main culprits of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks to book.

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The assurance was given by US Attorney General Eric H. Holder during a meeting with Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao at the Department of Justice Tuesday, according to Indian officials.

“Underscoring the crucial importance of cooperation in the investigation of the Mumbai terror attacks, Ambassador Rao expressed the hope that a few important aspects of the request for assistance in this regard would be fulfilled soon,” the Indian Embassy said in a media release.

“This assumes importance in view of the need of bringing the main culprits to book without delay,” it said without giving the specifics of the Indian request.

“Holder assured all possible assistance as provided within the framework of US law in this regard and underscored the importance the US attached to counter terrorism cooperation with India,” the release added.

Accepting charges against admitted Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David Headley and eight other Pakistanis for the 26/11 attack, a Delhi court last week set March 13 to discuss how to get Headley and his Pakistani-Canadian accomplice Tahawur Rana extradited from the US.

The two are lodged in a US prison. However, their extradition is unlikely because Headley has entered into a plea bargain with US authorities under which he cannot be deported to any country, including India, to stand trial.

Rana, who allegedly helped Headley in plotting the Mumbai terror attack, has been acquitted of the charges in the US, but is facing a trial for a foiled strike in Denmark.

Holder and Rao also discussed the growing India-US cooperation in diverse fields, including Counter Terrorism and mutual legal assistance in crime-related matters and issues relating to cooperation in anti piracy, the embassy said.

Both sides highlighted the importance of continued dialogue in areas of mutual interest and resolved to strengthen their mutual cooperation in this regard.

Extending a warm welcome to Rao, Attorney General Holder referred to the excellent relations between India and the US and hoped that these would further improve during her tenure, it said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])