The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sinha reminds global callers of Salem

New Delhi, Sept. 25: Foreign minister Yashwant Sinha has spoken to US secretary of state Colin Powell twice in quick succession in the last 24 hours over the temple attack in Gujarat.

Sinha also spoke during the day to a number of other foreign leaders, including British foreign secretary Jack Straw, European Union foreign policy chief representative Javier Solana and French foreign minister Dominique Galouzeau de Villepin.

Sinha said he took up the issue of Abu Salem’s extradition, too, when the world leaders called him to condemn the attack and condole the deaths.

“Salem is a very important link in the world network of international terrorism,” Sinha said.

The foreign minister added that the world leaders promised they would do their best to take up the matter with the Portuguese government.

A CBI team left for Lisbon today to present its case before the Portuguese authorities for getting Salem back to India.

The foreign minister had written a letter to his Portuguese counterpart to ensure that Lisbon responds fast to India’s request. But he has not received any reply so far.

Sinha called Powell yesterday and sought Washington’s help in convincing Portugal to hand over Salem as the gangster has been linked to acts of terror as well as a money laundering racket that is suspected to be funding extremists.

The two leaders spoke again this afternoon when Powell called to convey his condolence over the Gujarat incident.

Sinha said yesterday’s attack had outraged the sentiments of the world community.

“They all condemned in very unequivocal terms the terrorist act. Quite clearly, the international community is increasingly realising that India continues to be a victim of terrorism, most of it from across the border,” the foreign minister said.

So far, India has not directly blamed the Pervez Musharraf regime for the temple massacre, but Sinha said the killings reflected “the finger prints of Pakistan”.

He said though investigations are still on, there was enough evidence to establish a pattern between the temple strike and recent attacks by Pakistan-based militants in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The style of operation and the tactics followed by the terrorists suggest that it is in line with the similar incidents which had taken place in the past,” Sinha said.

He added that on the strength of the investigations, India has now established the hand of the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Lashkar-e-Toiba in all the past incidents.

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