Washington: The US has agreed to “take suitable steps” to give India direct access soon to LeT operative David Headley who has confessed to his role in the Mumbai terror attacks.
Addressing India’s concerns on the Headley issue, the US move came following a meeting between visiting solicitor general of India Gopal Subramanium and American attorney general Eric Holder. Subramaniam is here to explore all avenues open to India for getting access to the Pakistani-American.
“The two partners agreed to take suitable steps to bring about direct access to Indian authorities to David Headley as soon as possible,” the Indian Embassy said in a statement.
India’s ambassador to the US Meera Shankar and US Department of Justice representatives were also present at the discussions.
“The discussions have resulted in a mutual commitment that there would be the best possible cooperation in our common fight against terrorism.
“The partnership between India and the United States recognises the high priority to be accorded to each country’s national security. Both countries recognised the need for the investigations to reach a fruitful and successful outcome,” the statement said.
Giving his assessment, Subramanium said “we are delighted that all concerns have been mutually discussed, mutually clarified and the entire purpose of the visit has been achieved and we have a way forward.”
The solicitor general said the US move signals the beginning of an era of continued cooperation where information and inputs will have to be shared between different countries which have common threats, common avenues of danger against national security.
“The entire exercise, the attitude, the positivism with which we had our discussions leads me to beleive that everyone is going to do his best to make sure that truth is unravelled and that investigations will reach a fairly logical, coherent and successful end,” he added.
Subramanium said the US government is extremely conscious and viewing India as a partner in the common effort to deal with ‘difficult’ terrorist attacks.
Headley, who was arrested in Chicago in October last year, has confessed to playing a crucial role in the Mumbai attacks.
India has been seeking access to 49-year-old Headley to unravel details of his activities regarding the 26/11 attacks and plans for further strikes in the country.
Determined to seek the extradition of Headley and access to him, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had discussed the issue with US President Barack Obama earlier this month in Washington on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit.
“I raised that matter with the President and he did mention to me that he is aware of the legal position, and that we would get access to David Headley,” Singh had said.
Headley had pleaded guilty to all terror charges before a US court on 18 March.
Headley, who faces six counts of conspiracy involving bombing public places in India, murdering and maiming persons in India and providing material support to foreign terrorist plots and LeT; and six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in India, could have been sentenced to death if convicted.
In his plea bargain with the US government, Headley has offered to be subjected to questioning by foreign investigators through deposition, video conferencing or Letters Rogatory.
After pleading guilty, he will now get a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.