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Mulford says blasts, Kashmir linked

By Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC
July 13, 2006 04:08 IST
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US Ambassador to India, David Mulford, who is currently in Washington, asked to react to the statement by the Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri who claimed that incidents like the Mumbai bomb blasts were linked to the non-resolution of disputes between India and Pakistan, has said that 'obviously there are linkages there', and asserted that 'we all understand that Kashmir is a key issue'.

India has blasted Kasuri for his statement made in Washington on Tuesday during an address at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, calling it 'appalling' and calling on the Pakistani government to reject his remarks.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Navtej Sarna said Kasuri's comments were totally unwarranted and that 'we find it appalling', that the Pakistani foreign minister had linked 'this inhuman act of terror against men, women and children to so called lack of resolution between India and Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir'.

Mulford, in an interaction with a few journalists at the US Chamber of Commerce said, "Obviously there are linkages there. We all know that. [But] at this point, I think it's a little early to be precise as to who did what in these attacks and I think that's also an issue for the Indian government to explore and come to its own determination on."

"But I think in principle, we all understand that Kashmir is a key issue," he added.

Asked whether the US will exert additional pressure on Islamabad if it is found that the attacks were perpetrated by the Pakistan-based Lakshar-e-Tayiba, Mulford said, "The US has been willing to exert pressure all along and this is a group that's already on our anti-terrorist list. So yes, I mean, that's a foregone conclusion."

In his opening remarks, before the question and answer interaction, Mulford reiterated his own 'sense of outrage' over the attacks and reiterated Washington's commitment 'to work with India against global terrorism, making the point that terrorism wherever it occurs, is unacceptable'.

"I also would like to particularly express my personal sympathy to the people of India, especially the people of Mumbai, and to those who had family, or relatives or friends who were caught up in this disaster and to express condolences," he said.

Mulford also expressed hisĀ 'admiration for the big heart of Mumbai, their resilience, their willingness to get back right away to business as usual and to sort of just turn their nose up at these terrorists and keep their city's forward momentum going. It's very admirable'.

He said the US stands ready to immediately offer any assistance India may need, but said, to his knowledge, New Delhi had not made any such request.

"We've had cooperation all the time, we've been improving that cooperation and we always would have on offer in a situation like this any assistance that would be asked for."

Mulford said, "We would not impose that, but we have a long experience with other events like this and we think that we could bring something important to the process."

"But obviously, it's only if we are asked to and required to, because let's face it," he noted, "India is very competent in these fields themselves and they may well feel that they have entirely what they need to conduct whatever the investigations are that they need. So that will be their decision."

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC