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US Special Forces working in India to contain LeT, says military official

Islamabad, Sat, 03 Mar 2012 ANI

Islamabad, Mar 3 (ANI): The United States had its Special Forces in India and is working with the Indians to contain the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a senior American military official told a congressional panel.


In his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, US Pacific Commander Admiral Robert Willard defined the LeT as a "very dangerous" security threat to the entire South Asian region.


New Delhi, however, has rejected the claim that US Special Forces were based in India, although they did not deny Admiral Willard's other claim that both countries were working together to contain the LeT.


"We have currently Special Forces assist teams - Pacific assist teams is the term - laid down in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, as well as India," Admiral Willard told the House committee.


"And, we're working very closely with India with regard to their counter-terrorism capabilities, and in particular on the maritime domain, but also government to government, not necessarily DOD, but other agencies assisting them in terms of their internal counter-terror and counter-insurgency challenges," The Dawn quoted him, as saying.


Earlier, Congressman Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, described the LeT as "a joint enemy" of India and Pakistan, which led the "murderous assault" on Mumbai in 2008. "What efforts are being made to counteract that level of terrorism?" he asked.


"Lashkar-e-Taiba is very dangerous, Pakistani-based, and a lot of international design in terms of their aspirations. So it's a very important threat, and we're working very closely with the nations in the region to help contain it," Admiral Willard said. n New Delhi, a spokesman for the Indian Defence Ministry told reporters on Friday that Admiral Willard's claim that US Special Forces teams were based in India was "factually incorrect".


"The report is factually incorrect in so far as the reference to India is concerned," the spokesman said.


"US Special Forces teams have never been stationed in India in the past, nor are such teams stationed in the country presently," he said.dmiral Willard said the LeT was affiliated with the al-Qaeda "and contributes to terrorist operations in Afghanistan and aspires to operate against Asia, Europe and North America".


Responding to Congressman Wilson, Admiral Willard said that the Pacific Command's Indian Engagement Initiative resourced and hosted Mumbai counter-terrorist specialists for training exercises and exchanges throughout the US. (ANI)


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