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India among 60 nations to attend White House summit on terror

PTI |

Over 60 countries including India will participate in a White House summit on "countering violent extremism" beginning today in the backdrop of alarming growth of ISIS and recent terrorists’ attacks in France and Denmark, senior administration officials have said.

While the first two days of the three-day summit are primarily focused on domestic extremism given that there was substantial increase in home grown terrorism, the final day, Thursday would see full participation of more than 60 countries including several ministers to focus on foreign fighters among others.

India, which for the past several decades has been a victim of foreign supported terrorism and faces a challenge of domestic violent extremism that include Naxals and Maoists in particular, would be represented by R N Ravi, Chairman of the powerful Joint Intelligence Committee.

"It’s a very full and very ambitious agenda to expand and deepen our global coalition to counter and prevent violent extremism," a senior administration official said yesterday.

The conference would highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalising, recruiting, or inspiring individuals or groups in the US and abroad to commit acts of violence, efforts made even more imperative in light of recent, tragic attacks throughout the world.

Led by US President Barack Obama, top officials of his administration including Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice would be addressing the White House Summit. Obama would be addressing the gathering twice in the summit 

The significance of the summit has gained in the last few months in particular with the alarming rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, terrorists attacks in France and Denmark recently.

"Countering violent extremism is only one element of all of the different tools that we’re bringing against terrorists, and specifically groups like ISIL," the official said, adding that the focus would be on sharing information, how to make sure that all governments know those who may cause harm and what action can be taken.

Noting that the US remains particularly concerned about the possibility of groups like ISIL recruiting Americans to fight, the official said the message at the White House and the agenda itself is not entirely focused on ISIL itself.

"ISIL is the near-term threat that we all are focused on, but we also recognise in the United States there has been violent extremists that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and so the agenda for all three days is going to show a wide array of speakers and participants from all backgrounds who combat radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism in its many forms," the official said.

The summit would also highlight the effective techniques and strategies to counter violent extremism, and the violent extremist narrative including online spaces, and how to effectively and rapidly scale up effective models and assess their effectiveness.

"I think one of the issues that we will be discussing as a group of government representatives concerned about violent extremism across the globe is the role of socioeconomic exclusion but also political inclusion of youth in general," said the official.

The three-day summit is likely to issue a communique after the ministerial-level meeting level on February 19. This will outline both the concerns and the main topics that were discussed by the multi-stakeholder conversation there.

The communique would also come out with a series of commitments by governments and others for work in at least about eight areas moving forward, a senior administration official said.