By RSN Singh
The statement by former US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbot regarding the Malaysian plane mystery: "Direction, fuel load & range now lead some to suspect hijackers planned a 9/11-type attack on an Indian city", was not off the cuff or given in jest. It was a deliberate remark on Twitter.
It was not a statement from an ordinary person, but from someone who was closely linked to the US foreign policy and intelligence apparatus for almost seven years under the Clinton administration from 1994 to 2001.
Talbot is known for his expertise on South Asia, nuclear arms control and Russia. It may be recalled that India's then foreign minister had several rounds of talks with Talbot between 1998 and 2000, famous as 'Jaswant-Talbot Talks'.
The talks covered a wide range of strategic issues, and are considered to have created the spade work for Indo-US nuclear deal. It is therefore unlikely that Talbot would have made a statement on the missing Malaysian aircraft without an agenda based on some intelligence inputs.
The impact of his remark has been that it has buttressed the theory that the scene of disappearance or accident of the aircraft is in Asia and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). It may be reiterated that so far the search for the aircraft has been overwhelmingly confined to the IOR, completely discarding the Pacific Ocean. Is it deliberate?
Image: An unidentified woman wearing a mask depicting the flight of the missing Malaysia Airline, MH370 poses in front of the 'wall of hope' at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang. (AP)
Images: Provided by author/ AP/ Google maps