x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Clinton sends Pakistan a reminder to crack down on militancy

Pakistan and terrorism were the main themes of a media conference that the US secretary of state led with India's external affairs minister, SM Krishna.

NEW DELHI // On the final morning of her three-day trip to India, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, reminded Pakistan of the need to crack down on terror groups that operated within its borders.

Pakistan and terrorism were the main themes of a media conference that Mrs Clinton led yesterday with India's external affairs minister, SM Krishna, following a breakfast meeting between the two diplomats.

"Pakistan should do more in ensuring that [its territories are] not used as launching pads … including to attack the country and outside," Ms Clinton said.

She described Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan-based militant, as the mastermind behind the attack by gunmen on Mumbai in 2008, which killed 164 people. The US has authorised a US$10 million (Dh36m) reward leading to his capture.

Both Washington and New Delhi have criticised Pakistan for not detaining Mr Saeed, who founded the militant group Lashkar-i-Taiba in the 1990s. He denies any wrongdoing and links to militants.

On Monday, Ms Clinton referred to Ayman Al Zawahiri, who took over Al Qaeda's leadership after the death of Osama bin Laden last year, as being "somewhere, we believe, in Pakistan".

Pakistan's foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, on Monday denied that her government had any information about Mr Zawahiri's presence.

"If somebody has proof about it, it should be shared with us so that we can look into the matter accordingly," she said.

During her visit, Ms Clinton's main mission has been to encourage India to cut back on its imports of Iranian oil, in light of sanctions proposed by the US over Iran's nuclear programme.

About nine per cent of India's oil imports come from Iran, and although it has reduced those imports recently, it could still face US sanctions next month if Washington determines it has not done enough under a law aimed at pressuring Iran to prove its nuclear programme is peaceful.

Mr Krishna said during the news conference that "ties of culture and religion" bind India and Iran. "We have a strong intent for the peaceful and negotiated settlement of issues. Our stand on this has been clear and consistent," he said. "Iran is an important source of oil for us."

However, he said, "I believe we will soon see some movement on Iran from the Indian side", he said.

SSubramanian@thenational.ae

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* With additional reporting by the Associated Press and Reuters