Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Head of Joint Chiefs, Pakistani Officials Discuss Mumbai Terror Attacks

News in Balance
The Pentagon

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2008 -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with senior Pakistani officials in Islamabad today to thank them for their willingness to work with Indian authorities in a joint investigation into the recent terror attacks in Mumbai, India.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen also pressed the Pakistanis to explore “any and all possible ties” between the attacks and groups based in Pakistan, according to a statement released today by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

Mullen traveled to Pakistan yesterday, while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to New Delhi to help de-escalate tensions and promote cooperation in investigating the attacks that left nearly 200 people dead. The attacks began in India’s financial capital Nov. 26 and ended with Indian security forces regaining control Nov. 29.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates confirmed Mullen’s and Rice’s visits during a Pentagon news conference yesterday.

“It clearly was the action of an extremist group that apparently was targeting Americans and Britons, … but the truth is, most of the people who were killed were Indian,” he said. “And so it's important that we find out who did it and try and prevent it from ever happening again.”

Mullen’s agenda included meetings with President Asif Ali Zadari, National Security Advisor Mahdue Durrani, Chairman of the Joint Committee Gen. Tariq Majid, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Asfaq Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence Chief Gen. Shuja Pasha.

“All agreed that the tragedy in Mumbai represents a dangerous escalation in the sophistication of extremist attacks that represents an increased threat to the entire region,” the embassy statement said.

Mullen noted during the sessions recent successes Pakistan’s armed forces have made against extremists in the border region.

“Mullen also encouraged Pakistani leaders to take more -- and more concerted -- action against militant extremists elsewhere in the country,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, deputy State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Rice is extending condolences to the Indian people and expressing American solidarity with India in the face of tragedy.

“And she will be there to discuss with the Indian government how we can better cooperate in terms of this fight against extremism,” Wood told reporters yesterday.

President George W. Bush condemned the attack, telling reporters the people of India are resilient and strong and will prevail against violence. “The killers who struck this week are brutal and violent, but terror will not have the final word,” he said Nov. 29.

“The leaders of India can know that nations around the world support them in the face of this assault on human dignity,” he said. “And as the people of the world's largest democracy recover from these attacks, they can count on the world's oldest democracy to stand by their side.”

(Report by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service.)

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