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Official says U.S. had no prior information on Mumbai attacks

- The Washington Times - Friday, October 22, 2010

NEW DELHI | A senior U.S. diplomat says the United States did not have specific information about the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks before they occurred, despite U.S. media reports of warnings from two wives of one of the planners of the attacks.

Robert Blake, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, told news channel NDTV in New Delhi on Friday that the U.S. has shared with India all its information on terrorism.

"I would want to reassure all of your viewers that whenever we had any specific information on any attack wherever in the world, particularly against our friends like India, we shared that information on a real-time basis right away," Mr. Blake said.

He was in New Delhi to discuss the agenda for President Obama's visit to India in November.

U.S. media outlets have reported recently that two wives of David Coleman Headley told federal authorities of his links to the Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as early as 2005.

Headley, a U.S.-Pakistani citizen, pleaded guilty in March to helping plan the Mumbai attacks and an attack in Denmark that did not occur. He scoped out avenues for attack for LeT, which is accused of conducting the paramilitary-style assault that killed 166 people in November 2008.

Mr. Blake said no U.S. agency had specific information about the attack before it occurred. "Whenever we had any kind of specific information, we immediately made it a practice to share it with India," he said.

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao concurred with Mr. Blake, saying that before the attack, "we did not have anything more than very general non-specific information."

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs also said it had no specific information on Headley or his plans before the attack.

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