Thursday, November 4, 2010

Counter-terrorism on Obama\'s agenda during India visit: US

In the wake of reports that the US did not convey critical information on Mumbai attack plotter David Headley to India, a top official underlined that improving counter-terrorism cooperation was on President Barack Obama\'s agenda during his visit to the country.

\"I can assure you that strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation will be on the agenda,\" national security council spokesperson Mike Hammer told journalists in New York and Washington during a digital video-press conference.

\"The president will have an event that will focus on this as soon as he arrives at the Taj hotel. On the Headley case,\" he added, \"we shared information relating to terrorist threats as we had them at the time.\"

Meanwhile, the US has launched a review of the US agencies\' handling of inputs provided by two of the three wives of Headley about his radical connections and involvement in the 26/11 strikes.

\"We clearly are looking back,\" the director of national intelligence (James Clapper) is conducting an after action review to look back and see if there are lessons learned,\" Hammer said.

We have to recognise this happened sometime ago and I don\'t want to preempt what the president may specifically discuss with Prime Minister Singh, he added in response to whether the two leaders would discuss the Headley case in New Delhi.

A federal law enforcement official was quoted as saying in a report on ProPublica website that the State Department did report information about a 2007 warning from Headley\'s Moroccan wife after she met twice with officials of the US diplomatic security bureau and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Pakistan.

Officials have determined that the diplomatic security officer sent a written report about her allegations to the FBI, CIA and DEA, ProPublica said.

What happened after that will be a focus of the inquiry to be conducted by Clapper.

The White House and the State Department have so far maintained that there was no lapse in the investigation based on the information provided by the two wives of Headley ?\" first in 2005 and then in 2007. (

\"We enjoy terrific and excellent counter terrorism cooperation with India and this administration in particular has gone into great lengths to make sure that we\'re working together,\" Hammer said.

Both India and the United States suffer tragic losses in the Mumbai bombing and it is a shared experience and we both these democracies want to ensure than instance like this never occur, he added.

Indian investigators also considering questioning the wives of Headley as they feel that he had stonewalled information about his family, who had knowledge about his activities in India and his links with the outfit.

On a separate matter in connection with reports that the US will spend $200 million everyday of Obama\'s three-day stay, Hammer said, \"We don\'t know where these reports are coming from.

They seemed to be wildly inflated in terms of costs.\"

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