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Iran opposes US role in Indo-Pak tension
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 9
Iran today disapproved of the role being played by the United States to ease tension between India and Pakistan in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, saying countries in this region don’t require any assistance from ‘external forces’ to settle bilateral problems.

“Countries in the region don’t need any external involvement…it is for India and Pakistan as well as the countries in the region to try and establish peace in the region,’’ Iranian ambassador to India Seyed Mehdi Nabizadeh said at a press conference on the occasion of the 30th National Day of Iran.

Asked if he could identify the external elements he was referring to, the Iranian envoy shot back: “Do I need to…we all know who these external forces are and we should be vigilant about them.”

Identifying terrorism as the biggest challenge facing the world community, Nabizadeh said Iran, a friend of both India and Pakistan, was confident that the two South Asian neighbours could resolve the issues between them in the aftermath of the Mumbai strikes. “It (Indo-Pak tension) is quite a complicated matter…we hope India and Pakistan arrive at a common point on the investigations (into the Mumbai mayhem).’’

His comments are significant considering the fact that Iran is a key ally of Pakistan and its leadership has been actively involved in trying to end the stand-off between India and Pakistan after the Mumbai incidents.

On the fate of the much talked about Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, Nabizadeh said Iran was hopeful that the project would materialise. India was still grappling with the price and security issues, he noted.

Iran and Pakistan were presently engaged in bilateral discussions on the 2775-km pipeline project and there was room for India to join the negotiations at a later stage. However, India must not delay its decision beyond a point.

On new US President Barack Obama’s proposal to send more troops to Afghanistan, the Iranian ambassador said the presence of foreign troops was not a solution to the problems confronting the war-ravaged nation.

“Foreign forces can’t help bring peace and stability in Afghanistan…we wish the people of Afghanistan themselves govern the country,” he said.

Asked if Tehran had seen any change in Washington’s attitude towards it after Obama became the President, Nabizadeh did not give a direct reply but said: “We have always desired friendly relations with all countries but we will not accept any country imposing its views on us.”

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FBI officials to depose in Kasab’s trial

Mumbai, February 9
Officials of the US probe agency, the FBI, will be among the witnesses in the trial of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist caught alive in the November 26 terror strikes, the Mumbai police, which is likely to file the chargesheet in the next three weeks, said today.

“We will include FBI officials as witnesses as they have done various scientific tests in connection with Mumbai attacks. We are working on necessary procedures which will allow the FBI officials to appear as witnesses,” Mumbai police commissioner Hasan Gafoor said.

“Chargesheet in the Mumbai attacks will throw light on how the FBI officials have helped us. Though we have not yet decided when to file the chargesheet but it will take at least another 20 days,” Gafoor said and refused to divulge further details.

A team of three crime branch officials is also expected to fly to the US in connection with the probe into the November 26 terror strikes.

Over 110 witnesses including doctors, forensic experts, railway policemen will depose in Kasab’s trail, police officials.

The crime branch has also sought the FBI help in attaching the proof of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services being used by terrorists of Lashkar-e-Taiba with their masters in port-city of Karachi in Pakistan.

An FBI team earlier visited Mumbai soon after the attacks to carry out forensic tests and take DNA samples of Kasab.

“Making the FBI part of the investigation and witness will only strengthen our case. Though we have all evidence against Pakistan, we are expecting all possible co-operation from the FBI to bring the culprit to justice,” a crime branch official said.

Since six Americans were killed in terror strikes, it was mandatory for the FBI to investigate the attacks as they are required to register an independent case.

In the chargesheet, Kasab, whose Pakistani identity has been acknowledged by Islamabad, will face charges ranging from murder, attempt to murder and theft to waging war against the country under UAPA Act and Customs Act.

The Maharashtra government has already decided to set up a special court to conduct the trial. The chargesheet will cover mainly Kasab’s conversation with his handlers in Pakistan, his interrogation report besides eyewitnesses who saw him spraying bullets on the night of November 26 last year. — PTI

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