US commander to talk anti-terror cooperation with India

New Delhi, July 23 (Calcutta Tube) The highest ranking officer of the US armed forces, Admiral Michael Mullen, will Friday meet Defence Minister A.K. Antony and other officials here to discuss terror concerns and counter-terrorism cooperation of the two countries.

Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, arrived in India late Thursday. He will hold talks with Antony Friday evening, officials said. He will also be visiting the National Defence College here.

He will meet National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and the Indian military brass. He will call on his Indian counterpart, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, who is hosting the visit.

Officials said the talks would be focussed on terrorism emanating from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

Mullen said on his arrival that counter-terrorism would be the main subject of discussion with Indian leaders.

‘The US and India have shared interests that are tied specifically to counter-terrorism,’ he said before landing in Delhi. ‘We have both been attacked and lost precious citizens.’

He said Indian military leaders ‘are also very focused on how we share what we have learned’.

Mullen told journalists travelling with him that he was concerned that Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror outfit, blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attack, was emerging as a ‘larger, regional and global threat’.

He said he was worried how Pakistan-based terror outfits could provoke another conflict between India and Pakistan.

‘I see them (terrorists) starting to emerge as a larger, regional, global threat… One of the things that struck me then and is still a great concern is how 10 terrorists could drive two nuclear-armed nations closer to conflict,’ Mullen said.

On his agenda would also be boosting the military-to-military relationship between the US and India ahead of President Barack Obama’s November visit to New Delhi.

The defence cooperation between the US and India has grown dramatically in the past 20 years, Mullen said.

This is the second visit to India by a top ranking US official. US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, was here on a two-day trip that ended Thursday.

Mullen will later travel to Pakistan.

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