US Commander says working with allies to contain LeT

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Mumbai terror attacks 2008
Washington, Nov 14: A top Pentagon commander has said US forces were working with partners in the South Asian region to contain Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba that threatens India and had carried out 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of the US Pacific Command, told reporters in Honolulu, Hawaii, that in South Asia, around India, his forces endeavor was to contain Lashkar-e-Taiba.

"We find ourselves working with partners in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Maldives to build their capacities to deal with this organisation independently," Willard said.

US Pacific Command interacts with Indian armed forces with its jurisdiction starting from India and stretching to entire Asia Pacific region.

Calling India as the most "consequential military in the region" which operates in a fairly challenging neighbourhood, the American commander said: "Our relationship is now strong and growing stronger."

The admiral asserted that American forces will "continue to deal with violent extremism and other transnational challenges. And will continue to build partnerships with India and with other allies and partners overtime."

He made a particular reference to new threat emerging in the region, saying that merchant ships emanating from the Gulf of Aden were now swinging so far to the east that they are entering Pacific Command area of responsibility, in and around India's exclusive economic zone, in the Sri Lankan economic exclusion zone, and that of the Maldives.

He announced that his Pacific command was teaming up with India to address the issue of piracy.

"In the Indian Ocean region, due to the challenges that we have with the Horn of Africa and Somalia, the Somali pirates have driven merchant traffic hundreds of miles into the Indian Ocean. So this is a good illustration, given our earlier conversation, on how any disruption to the sea lines of communication can be costly," Willard said.

"So we're teaming now with India and those nations to attempt to contain the piracy that is reemerging in the Pacific Command AOR, due to the effects of the Somali pirate challenge that we"re faced with there," he said.

On military-to-military ties with India, Willard said, "we engage with the Indian armed forces across all the services, and we contribute to issues such as piracy in the Gulf of Aden and elsewhere in the Indian Ocean region, and broader maritime security throughout the region. And we look forward to continuing to advance our Indian partnership along the way."

"We have a special focus area on our relationship with India - a strategic partnership that continues to grow, both government-to-government and military-to-military. India is the largest democracy in South Asia," he said.

PTI

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