US, India seek to step up security cooperation

Top US homeland security officials were set to discuss stepping up cooperation with their Indian counterparts on Friday in the wake of Osama bin Laden's killing in Pakistan.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who arrived in India on Tuesday, and Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram will jointly launch the US-India homeland security dialogue, the US Embassy in New Delhi said.

The agenda for the talks -- which take place as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Pakistan with "tough questions" for the country's leadership -- is expected to include the May 2 killing of bin Laden and information-sharing related to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Napolitano's visit also comes amid the ongoing trial in a US court of a Pakistani-American who plotted the attacks in Mumbai.

The dialogue is part of new Indo-US ties that would increase "communication and information-sharing between the US and India on counter-terrorism and other issues that affect our security," the US embassy said.

India, fearing attacks by Islamist militants following bin Laden's killing by US forces, has increased security in major cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi.

In Mumbai, the first leg of a four-day trip to the country, Napolitano attended a memorial ceremony for the 166 people, including six Americans, slain in the 2008 attack on the city by gunmen who India says came from Pakistan.

India has blamed agencies of arch-rival Pakistan of staging the attacks, but Islamabad has denied the allegations.

"Terror will occupy centre-stage" when Napolitano and Chidambaram meet for their first formal talks on internal security, the United News of India said, quoting unnamed officials.

India and Pakistan, both armed with nuclear weapons, have fought three wars since their independence from British rule in 1947.

The Indo-US dialogue "will also highlight protecting the global supply chain, combating illicit financing and enhancing cyber security," the US embassy added as Napolitano flew to New Delhi.

Other topics that could be addressed include coastal security, mega-city policing, countering illicit financing and trans-national crime, cyber security, accessing and sharing of data relating to terrorism.

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