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May 07, 2012 at 04:46pm IST

Hillary Clinton confirms US bounty on 26/11 suspect Hafiz Saeed

Kolkata: US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday confirmed that the US has announced a bounty for terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba's founder and Jamat-ud-Dawa's chief Hafiz Saeed. "I authorised award for Hafiz Saeed who was responsible for attacks in Mumbai. It may take longer than we like but we will stand with you and trying to make that happen. India and US are greatest rebukes to religious discrimination," said Hillary in Kolkata on Monday.

Hafiz Saeed is believed to have been closely involved in planning and launching the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008.

Hillary's confirmation of the bounty for Saeed assumes significance because the US Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, had April 29 claimed that the US government never made such an offer. Munter argued that the Pakistani media had misreported the issue.

"Pakistani media is very active and responsible but it misreported the issue of Hafiz Saeed. Though Hafiz Saeed is a suspected accused of the Mumbai terror attacks, the US government didn't place any bounty/head money for him," Munter was quoted by the Dawn newspaper as saying.

Earlier, in the first week of April, US's Rewards for Justice website announced that information leading to the arrest or conviction of Saeed, 61, shall be rewarded with upto $10 million.

At an interaction with students and citizens at a Kolkata school Hillary also said that the bilateral ties between India and the US were most important. On the second day of her Kolkata visit, she lauded India's political development that exemplifies equality and empowerment.

Hillary, who will be pushing multi-brand retail in FDI and trade investment opportunities with West Bengal during her meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday, called for reducing trade barriers between the two nations.

Sticking to her agenda, Hillary said that stopping oil imports from Iran is India's role in the international community. She said that the US expected India to do more and block the threat posed by Iran.

"Arms race in region is feared as Iran pursues its nuclear program. India understands the use of diplomacy to resolve this threat and is working to lower purchase of Iran oil. We hope they will do even more. We believe this is part of India's role in the international community," she said.