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India, US step up counter terrorism cooperation

world Updated: Dec 14, 2010 10:33 IST

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India and the United States are working through "a huge range" of issues to implement enhanced counter terrorism cooperation in the wake of November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, according to a senior US official.

As part of the President Barack Obama's trip to India last month, they are starting a new dialogue between their home departments with US Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano going out in spring to have her first talks with Home Minister P Chidambaram, US assistant secretary of state for South Asia Robert Blake said.

The two countries are "moving out smartly to actually implement" the Counter-Terrorism Cooperation Initiative announced last summer, "through a huge range of different issues," he said at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank last week, according to a transcript released on Monday by the State Department.

"There's a great deal of work that needs to be done there," Blake said. "I think almost all of our agencies are involved in some way or another."

"We in the State Department have our own counter-terrorism dialogue that is very very active, he said. "We have very active information sharing and intelligence sharing that is going on. That was already going on before the Mumbai attacks. I think that's been accelerated since then."

The two countries, Blake said, "have had a lot of cooperation at the municipal level because after Mumbai there was a great deal of interest in what we call mega-city policing" or how does a large city like New York or Chicago or Los Angeles manage to coordinate all of their activities and make sure that everybody's working together.

"I think India felt that it had a lot to learn in that regard, so there's already been several visits back and forth from our police chiefs from several of those big cities," Blake said. "So there's a huge range of work being done."

Declining to go into details, he said: "I think it is extremely important and it underlines the very important commitment that the United States has to India's security and to helping India cope with many of the counter-terrorism challenges that it now faces."

Blake disagreed that Pakistan wasn't a subject of conversation during the Obama visit, noting that "It came up at almost every single public event that the President did. I think he addressed it very adroitly. .."

"We've been working with Pakistan to give that country the wherewithal to begin its own counter-insurgency strategy. There's been progress in South Waziristan, there's been progress elsewhere, but more work needs to be done. I think the President was very clear about that," the official said.