Washington, Jan 29 (IANS) Calling the fight against terrorism an "unfinished business", US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 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 a 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."
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)