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Panetta briefs India on terror
Leon E Panetta

New Delhi, Nov. 21: The chief of America’s Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, today met national security adviser (NSA) M.K. Narayanan and the heads of other Indian counter-terror outfits for briefings that were described by a senior officer “as a sequel to our arrangements for intelligence-sharing”.

Panetta was said to have also met the chief of the Intelligence Bureau, Rajeev Mathur, and the head of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), K.C. Verma, after a 30-minute discussion with Narayanan shortly before the NSA accompanied Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US.

Indian and US officials note that since 26/11, there has not been a major terrorist strike in India. But the revelations following the arrests of David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana in the US are seen as evidence that the Lashkar-e -Toiba is still plotting to attack important Indian establishments.

Defence minister A.K. Antony, who reviewed security measures on Friday — just a day before Singh left for the US — in a meeting also attended by Narayanan, asked services chiefs for assessments as the country marks the anniversary of 26/11 next week.

In an interview to the Washington Post before leaving for the US, the Prime Minister said there were intelligence warnings of an attack in India by Pakistan-based terror outfits. The administration in New Delhi has been watching with concern the series of blasts in Pakistani cities and senior officials have been warning of the possibility of the strife in Pakistan “spilling over”.

Panetta was understood to have continued with discussions on the investigation in the US that has revealed the links of Headley and his accomplice Rana. The two werearrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for allegedly plotting terror strikes in India.

Panetta this time has arrived in New Delhi after talks in Pakistan. He met Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and the ISI chief, Ahmed Shuja Pasha, in Islamabad.

Pakistan’s The Nation newspaper reported that Pasha gave evidence to Panetta of alleged Indian links to terror suspects in Baluchistan.

Despite repeated allegations from Islamabad, however, there is no word from Washington that it is buying the Pakistani line. Instead, senior US administration officials have been insisting that Pakistan assist in finding Taliban and al Qaida connections within its territory.

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