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US Presses Pakistani President for Fair Elections


U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher is pressing Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf to make sure elections set for later this year are transparent.

In an interview with the private Pakistani television station, GEO, Boucher said the U.S. government is ready to provide financial aid and technical help for the vote. Mr. Musharraf is running, and is expected to try to retain his dual role as president and army chief.

Boucher is in Pakistan to discuss bilateral relations with officials, including President Musharraf. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte also joined Boucher in Islamabad Friday.

The visit comes as police arrested more than a dozen suspects in connection with Thursday's deadly attack on an army vehicle in Baluchistan province's capital city of Quetta.

Nine soldiers and police officers were killed in the attack which took place just hours after Boucher visited the city.

Boucher also says the United States will fully support the upcoming joint Pakistan-Afghanistan peace jirga to be held in Kabul in August.

Both countries plan to hold a tribal peace council, or jirga, designed to bring hundreds of locals from both sides of the border to address the growing Taleban insurgency in the region.

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have deteriorated sharply in the wake of a dramatic rise in the number of attacks by militants.

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

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