Clinton Meets Indian Leaders in New Delhi

NEW DEHLI (RPRN) 7/20/2009–U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other top Indian officials in New Delhi Monday, on a visit aimed cementing a growing U.S.-Indian strategic partnership. Clinton says she believes neighboring Pakistan has been making efforts combat terrorist elements on its soil.

Clinton’s India visit, which began late Friday in Mumbai, has been filled with reminders of the Pakistani-based terrorist attacks on that city last November that killed 166 people and set back relations between the two South Asian powers.

The secretary stayed at one of two Mumbai hotels hit by the terrorists and attended a commemorative event there for the victims.

At a media event on the eve of her official meetings here, Clinton said she believes Pakistan has, in the recent months, been making real efforts to curb extremists that have been operating on its territory:

“In the past six months, in the course of working with the government of Pakistan, we believe that there is a commitment to fighting terrorism that permeates the entire government. And, that is what our expectation is as well. We expect it,” said Clinton.  “We talk about it all levels of our government, military, civilian, intelligence. And I also have sent messages very directly to the Pakistani people that this is in the interests of Pakistan.”

Clinton’s assertion that the anti-terrorism commitment is government-wide in Islamabad came in response to a question about Pakistan’s intelligence service, which has long been accused ties with Islamic extremists.

The secretary told Indian interviewers she expects to see tangible steps by Pakistani authorities in the coming days to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice.  She says she would be concerned if this did not happen.

The secretary is spending the entire day Monday with Indian government officials, as well as the leader of the ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, and BJP opposition party leader Lal Krishna Advani.

The two sides are expected to establish a formal strategic dialogue headed by Clinton and Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna and to sign at least two agreements flowing from the 2005 Indo-American nuclear cooperation accord.

One would designate sites for American firms to build two nuclear power plants in India.  The other would ensure that U.S. arms technology sold to India does not leak to third countries.  This pact could open the way to a major sale of U.S. multi-role fighter jets to India.

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