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Ahead of Obama visit, NSA downplays Headley tiff

November 02, 2010 16:50 IST
Seeking to downplay the Headley controversy, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said on Tuesday, that the access given by the US to the Pakistani-American terrorist was "unprecendented", saying such cooperation may not have been possible five years ago.

Menon's remarks seeking to clear the air ahead of the visit of US President Barack Obama, came within days of Home Secretary G K Pillai voicing disappointment over the US not sharing specific information on David Headley, a key accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

"In India, (there is a debate on) how much did the US knew about Headley at what time and how much did they tell us. If you look at the broader picture, the kind of access we got to Headley is unprecedented. This is not what many states do very easily," he said at a function organised by FICCI in New Delhi.

Menon wondered whether this kind of cooperation would have been possible about five years ago. He said the dissatisfaction over certain aspects of the ties was because people expect "much more" out of this growing relationship. "People expect much more out of this relationship. So, a lot of dissatisfaction we hear, whether it is outsourcing or counter-terrorism, (it is because) we expect this relationship to do much more," Menon said.

The NSA said the achievements of the relationship were "unprecedented" which neither of the two countries would have considered five or ten years back. "The level of engagement between our two countries is unprecedented. We never had this kind of engagement with each other in our history. There is no sphere of human endeavour in which we do not actually cooperate... the range of our engagement is quite unprecedented," he said.

Menon said the visit of Obama has given both the countries an opportunity to "actually put into practice and not just to showcase what we actually practice".

Asserting that he was "very optimistic" about the future of Indo-US ties, the NSA said the best thing for the countries to do was to be have a pragmatic approach in furthering the relationship. "I think we should do what we do best. We should be pragmatic and work the relationship where it works... I think we have the moment where we can be ambitious about the relationship," Menon said.

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