Rice urges Pakistan to cooperate in Mumbai inquiry

Mon Dec 1, 2008 9:16pm IST
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By Sue Pleming

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday urged Pakistan to give its "absolute, total" cooperation in finding those responsible for last week's attacks on Mumbai.

Rice, who is due in India on Wednesday to try to lower tensions with its rival Pakistan, said the United States made clear to Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari there must be complete transparency in the investigation into the Mumbai attacks that killed nearly 200 people, including six Americans.

"What we are emphasising to the Pakistani government is the need to follow the evidence wherever it leads and to do that in the most committed and firmest possible way," she told reporters travelling with her to London, where she will discuss India-Pakistan tensions with Britain's foreign minister.

Indian officials have said the Islamist militants who went on the rampage in Mumbai for three days were from an anti-India group based in Pakistan, a Muslim nation carved out of Hindu-majority India in 1947.

"I don't want to jump to any conclusions myself on this but I do think that this is a time for complete, absolute, total transparency and cooperation and that is what we expect (from Pakistan)," Rice added.

Zardari, whose wife Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by Islamist militants last year, has vowed to crack down if given proof but has urged India not to punish his country for the attacks on India's financial capital, saying militants have the power to precipitate a war in the region.

Rice said there needed to be the "highest levels" of cooperation by law enforcement and intelligence agencies from both countries, a view later underlined by Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband at a news conference with Rice.

"It is precisely at this moment of strain ... that we need very strong statesmanship and leadership to assert that it is joint action, and cooperative action, that will make the difference between stability and instability," Miliband said.  Continued...