With tensions heightened between India and
Pakistan, the top American envoy is calling for Islamabad to show its resolve
and to join the international effort to find those responsible for the Mumbai
terror attack. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in the Indian capital
to meet with top government officials. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports
from New Delhi.
Speaking to reporters at the American Embassy before her meetings with the Indian prime minister, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice directed much of her message towards Islamabad.
"We have to act with urgency. We have to act with resolve," said Rice. "And, I have said that Pakistan needs to act with resolve and urgency and cooperate fully and transparently."
Rice says that message will be delivered again to Pakistan. She is expected to fly to Islamabad Thursday, as part of her altered itinerary that saw her detour from Europe to South Asia, after last week's attack by terrorists on Mumbai.
Although some U.S. officials suspect involvement of the Pakistan-based Lashkar e-Taiba, Secretary Rice says it is premature to draw any conclusions on who is responsible. But she notes the assault on India's commercial capital resembles the type of attacks staged by al Qaida.
"Where there is a direct al Qaida hand or not, this is clearly a kind of terrorism in which al Qaida participates," she said.
India blames the attack on 10 gunmen who came by sea from Pakistan, heavily armed with automatic weapons and hand grenades. They killed about 175 people during a 60-hour siege.
The United States and other countries are concerned that the attack could wreck the Indo-Pakistani peace process that has been underway in recent years. The nuclear-armed countries have gone to war against each other three times.
A number of other prominent Americans have come to the region to hold talks with Indian and Pakistani officials. They include three senior American senators and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.
Speaking at an election campaign rally Thursday, the chairperson of India's governing United Progressive Alliance, Sonia Gandhi, issued a new warning to Islamabad about limits to India's patience, as it awaits a favorable from Pakistan.
The widow of slain Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi says India's neighbors should not make the wrong assumption that its desire for friendly relations is a sign of weakness. Speaking in India-controlled Kashmir, the powerful Congress Party leader added India will not bow down to terrorists, but rather will demonstrate what she calls a "fitting reply."
The rhetoric comes amid opposition party criticism that the government is soft on terrorism and failed to improve intelligence and security that could have prevented a wave of bombings this year, mostly blamed on Muslim militants.