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US Envoy, Indian Officials Discuss Regional Security Threats

By Steve Herman
New Delhi
16 October 2009

The escalating violence in Pakistan was among the regional security threats discussed in meetings between a top American envoy visiting New Delhi and members of the Indian cabinet.

The visit here by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns came amid rising concern in India about terrorist violence spilling over again into this country.

Israeli and Indian media report the Counter-Terrorism Bureau in Jerusalem has upgraded a warning to Israelis and other foreigners traveling in India about a "concrete threat" against Jewish facilities here.

A Jewish center was among the targets attacked last November in Mumbai by Pakistani-based militants who killed about 170 people.

India's external affairs minister, S.M. Krishna, is expressing concern about terrorist forces in Pakistan that, he says, "invariably" have India as the object of their attacks.

Burns, at a brief news conference before leaving India, was asked about the increased attacks in the region and the threats against India. He commented that Washington and New Delhi are mutually disturbed about them, including the October 8 bombing outside India's Embassy in Kabul.

"I think all of us are concerned about the situation in Afghanistan, as well as rising violence in Pakistan," he said. "And I think that simply underscores the importance of our collective effort to support Afghan authorities in a fight against violent extremists who have in the past done great damage to many of us and who threaten all of us in the future," he said.

Burns added the same is true in Pakistan with regard to the support Washington is giving Islamabad to take on terrorism there.

He made his remarks as Pakistani lawmakers ponder a controversial American aid package which President Barack Obama signed on Thursday. It would give Pakistan $7.5 billion over five years. But aspects of the aid program are generating objections from the Pakistani military which sees the package as impinging on the country's sovereignty.

Burns acknowledged to reporters here that measures have been included in the legislation to ensure that the development money is properly used "for the purposes intended."

India has complained that previous American aid given to fight domestic terrorism was misused by the Pakistani military and spent on weapons and equipment to deter India.

Pakistan and India both have nuclear arsenals and have fought several wars since winning independence from the British in 1947.

During his two days in the country Burns had what are described as "in depth" discussions with his counterpart, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao. He also met with external affairs minister Krishna, national security advisor M.K. Narayanan and other members of the cabinet of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The talks were also meant to help both countries prepare for the upcoming state visit by Mr. Singh to the White House next month.

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