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U.S. congressional delegation meets President Musharraf in Pakistan

U.S. congressional delegation meets President Musharraf in Pakistan

The leader of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi met Pakistan's president for talks on topics including Afghanistan and cooperation in countering terrorism, officials said.
Pelosi and her congressional delegation touched down in the capital, Islamabad, on Saturday afternoon and met with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf at his office at Army House.
While neither Pelosi nor Musharraf made any public comment after the meeting, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said that the general told the lawmakers that his government's resolve to fight extremism was "unshakable."
"While noting the importance of military means, he emphasized that the solution lay essentially in a political approach," the ministry said in a statement.
The U.S. delegation "lauded Pakistan's role in the war against terrorism" and "affirmed the strategic importance of U.S.-Pakistan relations," the statement said.
Musharraf faces pressure from Afghan and U.S. officials to do more to prevent resurgent Taliban militants from using Pakistan's remote tribal areas as a base for attacks on U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan.
Critics say a September deal with pro-Taliban tribes in Pakistan's North Waziristan region to end government raids on suspected militants in return for an end to insurgent activity has only helped the Taliban mount more cross-border operations.
Pakistan, however, insists it is doing all it can and that it can only stem extremist groups with a long term plan including economic and social programs as well as military force.
It has lost hundreds of soldiers in operations in the border region since dropping its support for the Taliban to become a key U.S. counterterrorism ally after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Musharraf told the delegation that it was "in Pakistan's vital interest to have a peaceful and stable Afghanistan."
He also called for strong political and military ties between Islamabad and Washington and asked for U.S. support in tentative peace talks with its archrival and neighbor India, the Foreign Ministry said.
Pelosi's visit coincides with concern in Pakistan about a U.S. bill that would link American aid for Pakistan's military with its commitment to combating resurgent Taliban militants.
The bill, one of a raft introduced this month after Democrats took control of Congress, would require President George W. Bush to certify that Islamabad is doing its utmost to counter Taliban operations in Pakistan and secure its long Afghan frontier.
Failure to do that would cut off some financial aid to Pakistan's military, though the president could waive the provision in the interests of U.S. national security.
The U.S. Senate has yet to consider it, and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State John Gastright said Friday in Islamabad that the Bush administration wanted the provision axed.
Pelosi's delegation, which arrived in Pakistan after a stop in Iraq, was expected also to visit Afghanistan. Details of that leg of their trip have not been made public.


Updated : 2021-04-24 02:36 GMT+08:00