At the start of the United States-India Strategic Dialogue on Thursday, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna pressed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with a request to provide Indian authorities with access to David Coleman Headley, accused in the Mumbai attacks and currently in the custody of the United States. He also pushed for relaxation of export control restrictions by the U.S. on high-tech goods sought by India.
In a clear indication of India's frustration with the lack of progress in the Headley case over two months after Headley struck a bargain with the U.S. Department of Justice, Mr. Krishna said, "access for our authorities to persons who have been apprehended by your Government in connection with [the] Mumbai terror attack is the logical next step."
Mr. Krishna added, "We are confident that our continued cooperation will lead to [the] realisation of this objective." He however noted that India valued the support it had received from the U.S. government in its investigations.
He also touched upon another area where India is awaiting a favourable U.S. policy response -- export control restrictions on high-tech goods, particularly dual-use items.
In this regard Mr. Krishna said in his opening remarks, "Given the strategic nature of our partnership and particularly the conclusion of the Civil Nuclear Initiative, these controls are not only anomalous but also a hindrance to furthering trade and investment in this particularly significant sector of our economies."
He added that India looked forward to "early steps in this direction".
On dispelling doubts
In her statements, Secretary Clinton sought to dispel 'doubts that remain on both sides'. Ms. Clinton said there were still "doubts among some Indians that the U.S. only, or mainly, sees India in the context of Afghanistan or Pakistan, or that we will hasten our departure from Afghanistan leaving India to deal with the aftermath".
She noted that equally, there were also "doubts in America that India has not fully embraced its role in regional or global affairs or will not make the economic reform needed to foster additional progress".
However, she argued that with this Dialogue and the level of confidence that India and the U.S. have established between themselves, they would "confront these challenges directly and candidly".
Click here for video of joint press conference by Hillary Clinton and S.M. Krishna. Source: U.S. State Department.