The United States is working at the “highest level” to provide India with access to Lashker-e-Taiba operative David Headley, even as it is sharing “real-time” information with India, U.S. Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer said on Monday.
“The U.S. and India are working at the highest level to provide direct access to Headley. Our government has put this as the highest priority in the counter-terror cooperation… We want to resolve it as quickly as we can,” Mr. Roemer said at a meeting with a group of correspondents here.
The U.S. was sharing “real-time” information in counter-terrorism areas, briefing officials who visited there and asking questions submitted by Indian investigators about what Headley knew.
Citing the U.S. legal system, Mr. Roemer said it was extraordinary to provide direct access to Headley. The LeT operative admitted to his role in plotting the Mumbai terror attacks under a plea bargain before a U.S. court and pleaded guilty to all 12 counts brought by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Under the plea bargaining, he could not be extradited to any country or awarded the death sentence. India has been demanding access to him for interrogation.
U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed India's role in Afghanistan and contributing $1.3 billion for reconstruction, the Ambassador said. The U.S. was looking at how New Delhi's engagement could be enlarged.
Lauding India's role in education and infrastructure development, he said Washington was looking at what new investments New Delhi could make or additional roles it could play, including strengthening anti-corruption measures and building civil services there.
As for U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates' remarks on greater transparency on the part of India about what it was doing in Afghanistan, Mr. Roemer said the U.S. was satisfied with answers New Delhi provided.
Disagreeing with the view that India's role in Afghanistan is being sought to be compromised on account of the U.S.-Pakistan relations, he said India had an indispensable relationship with his country.
Washington reached out to New Delhi to find out about its concerns before it undertook the strategic dialogue with Islamabad last month. The U.S. was seeking India's views on various issues relating to the region.
Asked about the Obama administration's response to the concern expressed by India at the misuse of sophisticated arms it was supplying to Pakistan to fight terror, he said the U.S. government and Congress would closely follow the use of these weapons.
The State Department would also keep a watch, and allegations of misuse would be treated seriously.
“The Congress will watch [weapons usage] like a hawk.”