US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano addresses journalists during a joint press conference in New Delhi on May 27, 2011. – AFP

NEW DELHI: The US Homeland Security chief said on Friday she viewed the banned Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) as an equal in danger to the al Qaeda network.

Janet Napolitano, speaking on a trip to New Delhi where she met top Indian security officials, was asked about the threat posed by the group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed.

“It is is one that seeks to harm people and the US perspective is that the LeT is an organisation which is in the same ranks of al Qaeda-related groups,” Napolitano told reporters after day-long talks in New Delhi.

India believes the LeT and the Pakistani intelligence service staged the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which severely strained ties between the countries and led to a breakdown in their peace talks.

David Coleman Headley, an American-Pakistani facing trial in a Chicago court in connection with the attacks in India's financial capital, has admitted to his links with the LeT and Pakistani intelligence.

The group, founded to fight India's presence in the disputed territory of Pakistan, denied any involvement in the Mumbai carnage.

Napolitano said the US had worked with India on investigations into the Mumbai attacks and would grant Indian investigators further access to Headley, the key government witness in the trial of an alleged accomplice.

“The United States has given India full access to the witness and once the case (trial) is over more access will be given. It is an example of how our two countries operate,” she said.

A twice convicted drug dealer, Headley admitted to taking part in the Mumbai plot after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty or to allow him to be extradited to India, Pakistan or Denmark on related charges.

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