India, a rising power on the global stage, is an indispensable partner of the United States, a top American official has said, hours ahead of the visit of President Barack Obama to India.
"In the case of India, we have a strategic partnership which we’re trying to develop. It’s an indispensable partner, one that we recognize is rising on the global stage, one that we want to embrace, because we think that together with India, as we have historically with our European partners - there are many things we can do together that advance both our countries’ interests and also that provide for others," said Mike Hammer, National Security Council spokesman.
"I think that what you’ll see on this trip is a manifestation of some of these ideas. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves in terms of making any announcements. I’ll leave that to the President. But clearly we will be working very closely in the future on that," Mr. Hammer said in a briefing with foreign correspondents on the eve of the departure of the US President Barack Obama on his four-nation Asia trip beginning with India.
"On this trip, we’re going to four vibrant democracies in Asia, strong market economies, and that’s something that is rather important to see," he said.
In the wake of reports that the US did not convey critical information on 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," Hammer said. He added, "The president will have an event that will focus on this as soon as he arrives at the Taj hotel. On the Headley case, 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.
"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.
The events which succeed this development 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.