Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's April 12 visit to America, US Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer held discussions with Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday.
After his meeting with the home minister, Roemer handed out the assurance that the issue of granting India access to Lashkar-e-Tayyeba operative David Headley was being taken up by the US at the highest level.
“I just had a very successful meeting with the home minister where I talked about working very closely for cooperation with Government of India and Government of US on counter-terrorism issues,” Roemer said.
The US has shared with India a lot of information based on his interrogation but has so far refused access to him, citing legal difficulties.
India has been seeking access to Headley, a Pakistani-origin American, to unravel details of his activities regarding 26/11 and plans for further strikes.
Banerjee's Trinamool Congress has reservations about certain clauses of the Nuclear Liabilities bill, scheduled to come up for voting in he Lok Sabha when the budget session resumes on April 15.
The Trinamool has also been conducting a campaign to oppose plans to set up a nuclear hub with Russian assistance at Haripur in West Bengal. The plant will come at the expense of uprooting 10,000 farmers and will endanger the environment, the party feels.
“We cannot be seen as opposing the nuclear hub plans in West Bengal and supporting the Nuclear Liabilities bill in New Delhi,” a Trinamool leader said on conditions of anonymity.
Given this backdrop, Roemer's 45-minute meeting with Banerjee assumes significance. However, both refused to confirm or deny whether they discussed the nuclear bill.
“We talked about my visit to West Bengal in January,” Roemer said.
“He was here on a courtesy call, ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit to the US,” was Banerjee’s reply.