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Washington Urged to Deepen Anti-terrorism Cooperation with India


Leading lawmakers and some South Asia experts in Washington are urging the Obama administration to deepen anti-terrorism cooperation with India. The call was made at a recent hearing on India at the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Recent terror attacks in India have prompted calls in Washington to further deepen cooperation with India on counter-terrorism.

In the wake of rising terrorism in the region, there is a call from leading South Asia experts for stronger U.S.-Indian anti-terrorism cooperation.

On Capitol Hill, key lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee see such cooperation as strengthening ties between the two nations.

Vice chairman Gary Ackerman wants more frequent contact. "While the U.S. and India have had a joint counterterrorism working group since 2000, the group has only met nine times," he said.

The Mumbai attacks have been blamed on the Pakistan-based Kashmir militant group known as Lashkar-e-Taiba, also known as LeT. And the chairman says the targeting of Jewish and Western victims was significant.

"The attack in Mumbai was not just about Kashmir, but an announcement by the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba - that they have adopted the larger goals espoused by al-Qaida," Ackerman said.

Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation testified at Ackerman's South Asia subcommittee hearing. She says stronger U.S.-India anti-terrorism cooperation would improve the safety of both Indians and Americans.

"The U.S. made a mistake," Curtis said. "In not forcing Pakistan to close down the LeT directly after 9/11 [the September 2001 terror attacks on the U.S.]."

Soon after the Mumbai attacks last November, U.S. officials say FBI conducted an investigation and presented its findings to Pakistan.

Later, FBI chief Robert Mueller visited India. He commented, "Terrorism is not just a local issue. It is not an issue of one country. It is an issue across the world," he said. "And to be successful, we all have to work together, share intelligence, utilize our various judicial systems to bring justice to those responsible for the attacks."

At the House hearing on bilateral relations, Former Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth said the Obama administration should maximize the potential of a strategic partnership.

He said the U.S. policy on India in recent years has been a fine example of bi-partisan cooperation. "This remarkable transformation of relations started under [President] Clinton, was then accelerated by President Bush," Inderfurth said. "And I believe is now set to continue its positive upward trajectory under president Obama."

The experts said U.S.-India relations are at a crucial stage with a new administration in Washington and next month's general elections in India. They say they remain hopeful that the present momentum in the relationship will be maintained.

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