Unprecedented US-India
Engagement And Interaction

American Chemical Society

Washington (PTI) - Concrete US aid to India to fight cross-border terrorism and homeland defence are expected to be the highlights of Home Minister L K Advani's visit to the US beginning today.
Sources said that the major focus of the meetings of the Home Minister with the top leaders of America would be terrorism and India's unstinted cooperation in meeting the threat of international terrorism.
Advani's engagement in Washington may include a meeting with President George Bush, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Vice President Richard Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell, apart from his host Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Sandia Laboratories, which has done considerable work on homeland security, border management and advanced sensor technology, would brief Advani in Washington.
Advani's visit would be followed by that of Defence Minister George Fernandes. Towards the end of the month, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha would arrive in New York for the World Economic Forum meeting.
On the American side, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman would be visiting India.
Also going to India will be Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky.
Their discussions will cover a wide range of issues, including environment, energy, democracy and other related subjects.
Tomorrow, Advani would be meeting and have a working lunch with Ashcroft, at whose invitation he is visitng the US.
There are likely to be meetings with the heads of the FBI and CIA and with scholars, analysts and think-tanks.
There would also be a meeting with American Jewish leadership, representing all the major Jewish organisations, which are hosting a dinner for him.
Advani will also be meeting with the editors of 'The Washington Post' and 'Washington Times'and appear on major TV channels.
On Friday, Advani will be in New York where he will visit Ground Zero -- the ruins of the WTC building after the terrorists brought it down on Sept 11, and meet with the New York Governor and the Mayor.
He will address the Council on Foreign Relations in a round table discussion to be participated by the Asia Society and other groups.
On Saturday, Advani is expected to meet with groups of the Indian community and have a luncheon meeting with prominent NRIs. The same day, the Indio-American Chamber of Commerce would host a dinner, which will provide an oportunity for interaction with the business community.
Next day, the Home Minister would address a meeting at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan in New Jersey, followed by a lunch to be attended by the Indian American Community in the Tri-State area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut).
This will be Advani's first official visit to the US. He visited the US last 11 years ago when he was Leader of the Opposition.
Sources said American leaders would get a good perspective from him as Advani is expected to explain to them the kind of threat India is facing, especially after the attack on Parliament on December 13 and, earlier, the Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir.
He will also explain the steps India has taken to meet the threat and the demarches India has made to Pakistan and is likely to tell the US what kind of cooperation India expects in her fight against terrorism.
A number of bilateral issues, including Extradition Treaty, may be discussed during Advani's visit.
Another issue expected to be discussed is that of Indian nationals detained here since September 11. India has been approaching the US authorities to get the names of these people so that it can provide consular access.
India has reiterated its interest in getting the details of these people and inquiring about their welfare. According to the Attorney General's list, there are 20 people in this category.
The American leadership is expected to ask Advani about the current state of Indo-Pakistani relations.
In their discussions with Indian diplomats and ministers, it is learnt, the Americans have given short shrift to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's laboured argument that terrorism against India becomes a "freedom struggle" of the Kashmiris.
The Americans have assured India that any act of terrorism has no justification whatever. They say: "Don't go into 'root causes' etc," the standard excuse of those who want to shield terrorists.
Any act of terrorism, the Americans have made clear to India, is to be dealt with as an act of terrorism.
This clarification has been specifically given also with reference to Jammu and Kashmir as well both by Bush and Colin Powell.
Bush said in a speech to American troops that America has a message to the rest of the world and the message is: "If you harbour a terrorist, you will be considered a terrorist. If you provide food and funds to a terrorist, you will be regarded as a terrorist. And the message is that if you do any of these things, you will have to take the consequences."
That, Indian sources pointed out, is as clear a message as any and has consequences for any country today that will misguidedly want to harbour terrorists or to protect them.
Bush has also said that he wants to see from Pakistan "quick, bold, decisive steps to eliminate terrorism."
Anything short of that, Indian surces say, will not be acceptable to India, which has supplied Pakistan a list of 20 wanted terrorists and criminals.
The test of sincerity is how Pakistan deals with this request, the sources said.
Copyright © 2002 Press Trust of India Ltd. All rights reserved.

Email This Article


This Site Served by TheHostPros