New Delhi: Even as India was publicly pressing for Lashkar operative David Headley's extradition from the US, then National Security Advisor M K Narayanan had suggested to the American Ambassador in December 2009 that government was actually not keen on it but wanted to be seen doing so.

According to Wikileaks, in a cable to the US State Department on December 17, 2009, then ambassador Timothy J Roemer said that Narayanan had told him on the issue of Headley's extradition that it was "difficult not to be seen making the effort," but that the government was not seeking extradition "at this time."

In the leaked cable, where Roemer was seeking New Delhi's commitment to not request Headley's extradition, Narayanan said the Indian Government would be "in the hot seat" if it were seen as pre-emptively relinquishing extradition of one of the main accused of the 26/11 attacks.

"He (Roemer) explained that the threat of extradition to India could cause Headley's cooperation to dry up, but that allowing the US judicial process to unfold or securing a plea agreement that both reflects his overall culpability and ensures his continued cooperation would maximize our ability to obtain further information from Headley," the leaked cable said.

Roemer highlighted the "unprecedented effort to share intelligence in the case of accused Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley and conveyed that we (the US) were following up on questions and requests that arose from the information we had already provided in the case," the cable said.

"He (Roemer) stressed that the Indian government's discretion in protecting this sensitive information was of critical importance, calling attention to recent media speculation containing details of the FBI briefing sourced to unnamed Indian government officials, which could compromise
our ability to obtain further cooperation and information from Headley," the cable added.

Reacting to this, the NSA said that he understood and dismissed the media reports as "preposterous".

Roemer also explained to Narayanan that "furthermore, if Headley were convicted, an extradition request by India would not be considered until his sentence in the United States was fully served, which could be decades, if ever."

'We are serious about Headley's extradition': Narayanan

In the midst of a controversy over his assessment of David Headley, former National Security Advisor M K Narayanan made it clear that India is serious and interested in the LeT operative's extradition.

"There is no question about the fact that we are serious about his extradition. We are interested about information about him," the West Bengal Governor told reporters here when asked about leaked US communication on whistleblower WikiLeaks.

According to WikiLeaks, in a cable to the US State Department on December 17, 2009, then US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer had said Narayanan had told him on the issue of Headley's extradition that it was "difficult not to be seen making the effort," but that the Government was not seeking extradition "at this time."

The former NSA declined to comment on the communication between US officials and said any questions and doubts on this issue should be addressed to the US officials.

"How can I comment on what communication has been made by American officials to his Government. Why don't you ask the American Ambassador," he shot back.

Asked about the cable quoting him as saying that India's demand for Headley's extradition was "just political posturing," Narayanan said neither he nor anyone else could believe that there was such a possibility.

"This question you should address to the Americans. You can't ask this question quite clearly because as far as we are concerned we are interested in Headley's information and his extradition".

The former IB Chief insisted that US officials should be asked as to what made them write so and reiterated India's "right intentions" to bring Headley to India while holding that what the Americans write is "up to them."

"I can't believe it if anybody believes it to be a possibility. But anyway, you should ask this to them. What made them write this? Ask the Americans, they are writing what they like," he said.

(Agencies)