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Access to Headley is a closed chapter: US

By Aziz Haniffa
September 28, 2010 09:01 IST
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United States Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake, while briefing reporters on the meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on the sidelines of the 65th United Nations General Assembly in New York, said the issue of direct and complete access to Pakistani American and Lashkar operative David Coleman had not come up at all at these talks. As far as the US was concerned, it was a closed chapter, he said.
This issue had been was a major irritant in India-US ties till some months ago, when Indian investigators, with the cooperation of the US Department of Justice, visited the US and interviewed Headley. But Blake said the issue "hasn't come up frankly in the last several weeks. So, I think, as far as we are concerned, this matter is closed, and again, we continue to be very pleased with the very strong counterterrorism cooperation we have with India."
When asked if the arrangements that had been made to interview Headley and the access provided to Indian investigators that was such an irritant earlier, had been resolved to New Delhi's satisfaction, Blake said, "I don't want to get back into that now."
But he asserted, "Again, the Indian team got access and I think they left satisfied with the access that they received. So, we consider that particular chapter closed."

Earlier this year, Headley pleaded guilty to being part of the conspiracy in the horrific Mumbai terror attacks.
When Headley, aka Daood Gilani, pled guilty on March 18, Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that the Chicago federal court proceeding was just the beginning in unearthing the full dimension of the terror plots hatched by Headley under guidance from his Lashkar-e-Tayiba handlers.
Holder had said, "Today' guilty plea is a crucial step forward in our efforts to achieve justice for more than 160 people who lost their lives in the Mumbai terrorist attacks."
He said, "Working with our domestic and international partners, we will not rest until those responsible for the Mumbai attacks and the terror plot in Denmark are held accountable."
"Not only has the criminal justice system achieved a guilty plea in this case," Holder added, "but David Headley is not providing us valuable intelligence about terrorist activities."
The Attorney General noted that "as this case demonstrates, we must continue to use every tool available to defeat terrorism both at home and abroad."
Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 14, Holder told the lawmakers that "we secured a guilty plea from David Headley for assisting the deadly attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 and plotting another attacks in Denmark."
He testified that as part of Headley's plea, "he has already provided valuable intelligence to the government about terrorist activities abroad."

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC