UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be in India on Saturday, it was officially announced, even as US deputy secretary of state, John Negroponte, who reached here today, asserted that it was imperative to investigate the Mumbai attacks and bring those responsible to book.
"The effort at the moment is concentrated on investigating these attacks and bringing those responsible to account," Negroponte said in a statement after holding meetings with national security advisor MK Narayanan and foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon. Negroponte's day long visit was to firm up counter-terror cooperation and to persuade India to exercise restraint in dealing with its neighbour Pakistan. His visit follows that of US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice, who was here immediately after the Mumbai attacks and had asked Pakistan to take action against "non-state actors".
Negroponte left little doubt that President Asif Ali Zardari was under great compulsion to show more action against the terror infrastructure in Pakistan and that there was a concerted effort to persuade Islamabad. "We're cooperating in this effort, obviously the government of India is in the lead, but all of our diplomatic partners have a responsibility to contribute to this effort."
Negroponte, who was in Islamabad before reaching New Delhi, is understood to have handed over a list of terror groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its front organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawah, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Al Rashid Trust to Pakistani authorities, against whom the US wanted action to be taken. According to reports, the list also contains names of lesser known groups like the Pasban Ahle-e-Hadith. The US diplomat reportedly asked his interlocutors in Islamabad to continue action against the LeT and to expand the scope of the operations to other "groups that may be linked with subversive activities in India."
Indian security agencies have collected more evidence since Rice's visit and are now zeroing in on the list of "ISI handlers" of the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror strikes. New Delhi is likely to have shared additional evidence with Washington when officials met Negroponte, sources said.
Meanwhile, UK prime minister Gordon Brown is coming to India on a a two day unscheduled visit on Saturday. Sources said that Brown will be having a breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday.