World News

Rice sees Mumbai "involvement" on Pakistani soil

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There is evidence of involvement on Pakistani soil in the recent attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday, repeating calls for Pakistan to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

Rice told “Fox News Sunday” she believed the militants who staged the assault were “non-state actors,” but Pakistan still should cooperate in the investigation. She said U.S.-Pakistan relations were at stake as well as Islamabad’s ties with India.

India has blamed Islamist militants based in Pakistan for the three-day assault on India’s commercial capital that killed 171 people, including six Americans.

Pakistan has condemned the attacks, denied any involvement by its state agencies and vowed full cooperation in investigations, but has called for proof of Pakistani involvement.

“I think we do believe that there was, there is evidence of involvement somehow on Pakistani soil,” said Rice, who just returned from a trip to the region to urge cooperation between the old enemies India and Pakistan. They have fought three wars since independence in 1947.

Rice did not describe the evidence but said the United States had passed information about the attacks to both India and Pakistan.

“I believe that the government of Pakistan very much wants to do the right thing here because they understand that Pakistan has a responsibility -- even if these were non-state actors, which I believe they were -- non-state actors operating on Pakistani soil, it is still Pakistan’s responsibility to respond,” she said.

“I have made it very clear that Americans also died in that attack,” said Rice, who will leave her job when President George W. Bush steps down on January 20.

“And that the United States expects the full and complete cooperation of Pakistan, and Pakistani action. And that yes, it is a matter for our relationship,” she said.

President-elect Barack Obama said on Sunday it was important to calm tensions between India and Pakistan because the United States needed Pakistan’s help in fighting militants in neighbouring Afghanistan.

“We can’t solve Afghanistan without solving Pakistan. We are going to have to make sure that India and Pakistan are normalizing their relationship if we are going to be effective in some of other these areas,” Obama said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Many al Qaeda and Taliban militants fled Afghanistan to Pakistan’s border lands, that have never come under the full control of any government, after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban in 2001.

Afghan officials have often accused Pakistan of allowing militants to use Pakistani territory as a safe haven from which to direct and launch attacks.

Editing by David Wiessler