Washington: Calling the fight against terrorism an "unfinished business", US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday assured India that bringing the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack remained one of America's top priorities.

"I think it's unfinished business. We are not in any way walking away from it," Clinton said in response to a question from India during what was described as a "Global Townterview" at the Newseum here, her last before she leaves office later this week.

Clinton said she is leaving office, "but I can assure you and the Indian people that this remains one of our very highest priorities". She, however, justified the non-extradition of David Coleman Headley, one of the key plotters of the attack, to India, saying his 35-year sentence represented the punishment that he richly deserved and the role he has played and was expected to play to prevent another such "horrific" attack.

Asked why Headley, who pleaded guilty, was not being extradited as demanded by India, Clinton pointed to Headley's cooperation in the case. India was disappointed over the sentence given to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative by a Chicago court last week.

Although the issue was not directly under her jurisdiction, she noted: "There was an intensive amount of investigation and interrogation of him by Indian authorities as well as American authorities. A lot of information was obtained."

"And I think the sentence represents both the punishment that he richly deserved for his participation in 26/11, but also recognition of the role he has played and is expected to continue to play in supporting Indian and American efforts to prevent the kind of horrific attack that occurred in Mumbai."

US to help India counter Pakistan terror

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her country will improve its information sharing and law enforcement cooperation with India to deal with the terrorism threat from Pakistan.

"We have been successful in capturing and eliminating a number of the most dangerous terrorists who have safe havens inside Pakistan," she said in response to a question from India during her 59th "townterview".

"We have continued to press the Pakistani government because of course terrorists inside Pakistan are first and foremost an ongoing threat to stability of Pakistan," she said.

"And they need to deal with it because of that as well as implications for India, Afghanistan, the US and elsewhere." She said the efforts that both Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari have made to improve business, trade and commerce between the two countries also "helps create a more receptive environment for dealing for dealing with these serious threats".

"So of course I am not satisfied," she said recalling her comments during a similar townhall in Kolkata in May last year."I believe going after terrorism is an obligation of every country, everywhere, every sensible person. We can have disagreements but that cannot be an excuse any way for using violence or condoning violence," Clinton said.

"So we are on this job literally every single day and we will improve our information sharing and law enforcement cooperation with India and I think that will pay rich dividends in years to come," she said.


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