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July 04, 2012

India, Pakistan Hold Talks on Mumbai Attacks

by Anjana Pasricha

NEW DELHI — India has made fresh accusations of Pakistani state support of the 2008 terror attacks that devastated India's financial hub, Mumbai, dampening Wednesday peace talks in New Delhi.

As top diplomats from India and Pakistan met in the Indian capital, India’s Home Minister P. Chidambaram renewed allegations that “people clearly describable as state actors” were present in a control room in the Pakistani city of Karachi from where he says the deadly strike was coordinated.

“So I think the dots are being connected, it is no longer possible for anyone to deny that the incident happened in Mumbai, but the control of the incident before and during the incident was in Pakistan,” he said.

Indian officials say they have gathered the evidence from a man who they describe as the handler of the ten terrorists who mounted the multiple assaults on luxury hotels and other targets in Mumbai, killing 166 people. He was arrested last month after being deported by Saudi Arabia.

India now has more details of exactly how the attack was launched, said Chidambaram.

“We now know where they were trained, who trained them, who briefed them, we now know who was in the control room, we now know how the control room functioned.”

The home minister's allegations took center stage during talks between Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mitthai and his Pakistani counterpart, Jalil Abbas Jilani, designed to move the fragile peace process forward.

Observers say India has demanded more action from Pakistan against those responsible for the Mumbai attacks, including the founder of Laskhar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Saeed, who New Delhi accuses of masterminding the strike. India says it has furnished new evidence to back its allegations.

But Pakistan has repeatedly denied any role in the attacks.

While the issue of terror continues to trouble relations between the two countries, officials also discussed how to move ahead with less contentious issues such as liberalizing trade.

Observers say they do not expect substantive progress at the discussions, but say they will help in ensuring that the peace dialogue between the archrivals stays on track.  The two sides are scheduled to meet on Thursday.