India, US push for stronger intelligence sharing

In a move that would help raise the frequency and quality of real time intelligence sharing, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday decided to start the Homeland Security Dialogue at all levels including political to send a strong message to security establishments in the two countries to work together.

The initiative gains significance in the backdrop of the Indian security establishment's disappointment with incomplete disclosure by the US about Pakistan-born US national David Headley's links to the Lashkar-e-Toiba and his role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

At his meeting with the Prime Minister on Monday, Obama also shared the outcome of the probe ordered after Home Secretary G.K. Pillai went public with his disappointment. The probe indicates the failure of US agencies to connect the dots and link Headley to the Mumbai attacks conspiracy.

"What we have is various different kinds of information about David Headley that, again, weren't specific to a particular plot in India," news agency AFP said, quoting Ben Rhodes, US Deputy National Security Advisor at a news conference.

"They were not the kinds of information we were able to connect, for instance, to the plotting in Mumbai," he said.

The US plans to partially make the probe report public but Indian security officials, sceptical about the accuracy of its findings, want Delhi to send a court request to seek the original complaints filed by Headley's wives about his Lashkar links beginning 2005.

Indian officials said a sustained dialogue at a political and official level could have helped smoothen the rough edges that bruised an otherwise "unprecedented" cooperation on Headley.

Home Minister P Chidambaram had laid the foundation for the security dialogue in his first visit to the United States after the 26/11 attacks when he stressed on the political level - apart from the existing institutional mechanisms - to foster cooperation in real time exchange of intelligence and sharing of analysis of intelligence.

"The decision is to hold the security dialogue at all levels, officials as well as the Home Minister," a government source said, pointing that Delhi had already agreed to work closely with the US Transport security Agency to raise scrutiny at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust.

Moving ahead

Home minister P Chidambaram laid the foundation for the dialogue during his US visit after the 26/11 attacks.

India had hoped to foster cooperation in real-time exchange of intelligence and sharing of intelligence analyses.

Indian officials said dialogue at a political and official level could have helped smoothen the rough edges that bruised an otherwise "unprecedented" cooperation between the two countries on Headley.


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