The United States and India will ratchet up its counterterrorism cooperation several notches, extending it across agencies in both countries to cover state, local and municipal agencies, a top US official disclosed in Washington.
Taking part in an interaction following his speech to a conference of US-India Relations, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Robert Blake announced that US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will make her first trip to New Delhi in the spring for meetings with her counterpart Home Minister P Chidambaram and other senior officials in the Ministry and intelligence agencies.
Blake said that 'the two countries are moving out smartly to actually implement' the US-India Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative announced last summer and noted that it would de done "through a huge range of different issues."
"Almost all of our agencies are involved in some way or another," he said, and added, "We in the State Department have our own counterterrorism dialogue that is very active. We have very active information sharing and intelligence sharing that is going on and that was going on before the Mumbai attacks and it has been accelerated since then."
Blake noted that 'we are starting, as part of the President recent trip (to India), a new dialogue between our departments of Homeland Security. There is a great deal of work that needs to be done there and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano will be going out to India this spring to have her first talks with Minister Chidambaram in the Ministry of Home Affairs.'
He said, "We have had a lot of cooperation at the municipal level, because after Mumbai, there was a great deal of interest in what we call mega-city policing -- that is, how does a large city like New York or Chicago or Los Angeles, manage to coordinate the panoply of federal, state and municipal authorities and agencies to come up with a one-kind-of-a-centre that can coordinate all of their activities and make sure that everybody is working together."
"And, I think that India felt that they had a lot to learn in that regard. So, there's already been several visits back and forth from our police chiefs from several of those big cities," he added.
Blake said, "There is a huge range of work that's been done -- a lot of it, we really can't talk about for obvious reasons. But it is extremely important and it underlines the very important commitment that the United States has to India's security and to helping India to cope with many of the counter-terrorism challenges that it now faces."