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Pakistan Denies Presence of al-Qaida


A Pakistani official has told a visiting U.S. diplomat that al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and Taleban leader Mullah Omar are not hiding in southwestern Pakistan.

Jam Mohammed Yousaf, the top elected official in southwestern Baluchistan province, also told Richard Boucher that Pakistan is doing all it can to secure the border with Afghanistan.

Boucher, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, was in the provincial capital Quetta Thursday - the third day of his trip to Pakistan. Boucher has already met with the Pakistani foreign minister and opposition leaders. He is schedule to hold talks with military ruler President Pervez Musharraf in the next few days.

Boucher's trip has focused on bilateral cooperation as well as pressing officials to hold free and fair elections, scheduled to take place later this year.

Pakistan, a key ally of the U.S war on terror, has been criticized by Afghan and U.S. officials about harboring extremists who stage deadly attacks in Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies the charge and says it has shown its commitment to fighting terrorism by deploying some 80,000 troops along the border with Afghanistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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