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Keep up pressure on Pak, India to urge US

India will press the US to sustain pressure on Pakistan to do more to bring the Mumbai terrorists to justice, when US envoy Richard Holbrooke meets Indian officials on Monday.

delhi Updated: Feb 15, 2009 19:48 IST

India will press the US to sustain pressure on Pakistan to do more to bring the Mumbai terrorists to justice, when US envoy Richard Holbrooke meets Indian officials on Monday. India and the US will also discuss ways of bringing stability to Afghanistan.

Holbrooke, the US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, arrives in New Delhi, the last leg of his fact-finding 10-day trip to the region. He was in Kabul for three days until Sunday.

He will be the first senior representative of the new US administration to visit India after Barack Obama became president over three weeks ago.

Holbrooke is expected to hold talks with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon on Monday.

The Mumbai terror attacks will figure prominently in the discussions.

With Pakistan admitting three days ago that part of the Mumbai conspiracy was planned in its territory, India will be telling the US envoy about its expectations of sustaining international pressure on Islamabad to take the Mumbai case to its logical conclusion: prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators of the attacks, official sources said.

The US has played a significant role in pressuring Pakistan, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) closely tracking the Mumbai attacks that killed 173 people including six Americans.

India is expecting that Holbrooke will share his impressions of his meeting with Pakistani leaders and how the new US administration seeks to redefine the fight against terror flowing from Pakistan.

A day after Islamabad acknowledged the role of its citizens in the Mumbai attacks, New Delhi made it clear Friday that it will be reviewing actions taken by Islamabad. India also reminded Pakistan to dismantle the terror infrastructure in its territory.

India and the US will also discuss in detail the volatile situation in Afghanistan and the growing aggressiveness of the Taliban. A day before Holbrooke landed in Kabul, the Taliban militia attacked the ministry of justice killing over 20 people in coordinated assaults.

The US sees India, which has already pledged $1.2 billion for reconstruction work in Afghanistan, as a valuable partner to restore peace and stability in the violence-torn country.

The two sides will focus on ways to work together on what Obama has called the "central front" in the war against terror: Pakistan and Afghanistan. The US is planning to deploy additional 30,000 US troops as part of a major surge to combat the Taliban.

New Delhi is, however, likely to voice its opposition to a reported move by Washington to involve moderate segments of the Taliban in a future power-sharing agreement in Afghanistan. In New Delhi's view, any such move is likely to backfire because it feels there is no good or bad Taliban.

Since it is his first visit to India in his new incarnation, Holbrooke, a seasoned diplomat who played a key role in ending the Bosnia strife, is expected to steer clear of contentious issues like Kashmir.

India had apprehensions about the Obama administration trying to play an interventionist role in the Kashmir dispute. New Delhi was relieved when the US announced the appointment of Holbrooke as special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The exclusion of Kashmir from the brief of Holbrooke is seen as a signal by the Obama administration to rope in India to restore stability in South Asia.

First Published: Feb 15, 2009 19:45 IST