India will get access to Headley: Obama

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Washington, Apr.12 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and US President Barack Obama had a 50-minute meeting at Blair House here on Sunday afternoon, during which the American President assured the Indian side that it would get access to David Headley, one of suspects involved in scouting potential targets for Pakistan-based terrorists prior to the26/11 attack in Mumbai.

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said: "They (the US) were working through the legal system on the issue of provision of access to Headley."

Describing the summit meeting as "extremely positive and constructive", Ms. Rao said that President Obama was sensitive to India's concerns.

"President Obama understood India's deep concerns in this regard as also the situation in Afghanistan. He said India's interests were consistently on the minds of the United States. The president said there was no country in the world where opportunities for a strong and strategic partnership are greater and more important to him personally or to the United States than that with India," Ms. Rao said.

Surprisingly the Prime Minister went into specifics, naming Ilyas Kashmiri, Hafeez Sayeed and the Lashkar e Taiba, and, expressed India's disappointment over Pakistan not cracking down on them and other perpetrators of the 26/11 attack on India.

Foreign Secretary Rao said: "The Prime Minister mentioned David Headley and the rise in infiltration, the activities of LET, Hafiz Sayeed and Ilyas Kashmiri. He said there was no will on the part of Pakistan to punish those responsible for the terror crimes of 26/11.

This was where the partnership between the US and India could make a difference."

The Prime Minister said that for peace and prosperity in South Asia, it was important that Pakistan reign in terrorist elements within its border, or else, all well laid out plans could go awry. And, this included Afghanistan and its future President Obama responded by saying: "India has the goodwill and understanding in this regard."

He said he shared the Prime Minister's vision of South Asia. He also said that "the US appreciated India's role in Afghanistan and recognised the enormous sacrifice that India has made in helping to stabilize that country."

He said "the United States and the world would like India to continue playing a positive role in helping in Afghanistan's development."

President Obama also said that he favoured a lowering of tensions between India and Pakistan.

"The US was engaging Pakistan on these (terror-related) issues. He (Obama) said the US would be sensitive to issues that we (India) have raised in the context of security assistance that has been given to Pakistan" said the Indian foreign secretary President Obama and Prime Minister Singh said that "they were looking forward to the strategic dialogue between the two foreign ministers --Hillary Clinton and S.M.Krishna-to be held in Washington on June 3.he two leaders also "expressed satisfaction over the completion of arrangements and procedures relating to the nuclear deal," said Ms. Rao.

President Obama stressed on improving ties between " the two great democracies that shared common values and people to people relationships."

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India is looking forward to the visit of President Obama and US First Lady Michelle Obama to India later this year.

He said "President Obama had caught the imagination of millions around the world, including the people of India who were anxious to see him soon in India."

Subjects of food security, energy security and economy also came up briefly for discussion between the two leaders, as also did the topic of Iran, where there was a difference of opinion, it seems.

The foreign secretary did not go into specifics on this issue. By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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