By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 2 (IANS): Expressing its appreciation for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's willingness to take political risks in resuming a dialogue with Pakistan, the US has again asked Islamabad to take effective action against anti-India terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), blamed for the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
"We don't distinguish among terrorist or violent extremist groups who operate out of Pakistan. That means acting as effectively against groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba as well," US Undersecretary of State William Burns said Tuesday ahead of the first India-US strategic dialogue starting Wednesday.
The US official, who leads the official level dialogue with Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, also declared Washington's interest in a rapprochement between India and Pakistan, but said: "We will not inject ourselves into issues that divide the two governments unless India and Pakistan ask for our help."
"And we will continue to urge Pakistan to take decisive action against the violent extremists who threaten its own interests as much as they do the security of India and America," Burns said in an address at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington think tank.
"To put in simply," he said, "the only 'hyphen' that we will pursue with respect to our relationship is the one that links the United States and India."
He noted that Manmohan Singh had made clear the importance he and India attaches to effective Pakistani efforts against terrorists, particularly those responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Pakistanis too have stated "that they are going to pursue the trial of suspects in the Mumbai attacks vigorously", Burns said. "It was important not only for the US but for the rest of the international community to see that happen and see effective measures taken against violent extremists who threaten not only India, but Pakistan's own security."
Pointing to the dramatic expansion of the US law enforcement and counter-terrorism cooperation with India since the Mumbai attack, he said: "It certainly reflects the very strong American commitment to fighting violent extremists in that part of the world."
"I think that also is a contribution to creating an atmosphere in which India and Pakistan can also make progress," Burns said when asked what the US was doing to help reconciliation between the two South Asian neighbours.