New Delhi: New CIA chief Leon Panetta was in India Thursday for high-level talks on the worsening violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan, sending a signal of the deepening ties between Washington and New Delhi.
Panetta, who arrived in New Delhi late Wednesday, held “exhaustive discussions” with home minister P Chidambaram, an official said.
“This is part of the series of high level contacts we have had with the US administration since the Mumbai attacks ” last year in which at least 165 people were killed, including six Americans, said the official.
“Ways of increasing intelligence and security cooperation were discussed.”
Panetta was meeting India’s national security advisor MK Narayanan, the head of the domestic Intelligence Bureau Rajiv Mathur and chief of the external intelligence service, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), KC Verma, another source said.
“Those meetings are expected to cover India’s security concerns vis a vis Pakistan and Afghanistan,” officials said.
The US embassy in New Delhi confirmed Panetta’s arrival but declined to give any details on his talks, citing security reasons.
Panetta’s visit follows trips to India by US National Intelligence Director John Michael McConnell and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) chief Robert Mueller in the aftermath of the November 26-29 Mumbai siege.
Indian investigators say the banned Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) trained and equipped the 10 militants and financed the operation.
One of the gunmen, a Pakistani national, was captured alive and has been charged by a Mumbai court.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also said the attacks had the support of some “official agencies” and that Pakistan used terrorism as an “instrument of state policy.”