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US Military Delegation Discusses Options With Pakistani Leaders - 2001-09-24

A U.S. military delegation is in Pakistan to discuss cooperation in a possible campaign against alleged terrorist Osama bin Laden and his network. The United States is responding to Pakistan's cooperation with economic incentives.

The purpose of the visit is what members of the U.S. defense delegation call information sharing. Both sides are tight-lipped about the discussions held so far. U.S. ambassador Wendy Chamberlin told reporters the talks are focusing on "mutual cooperation" in the efforts to combat terrorism. She told reporters Washington is not putting pressure on Pakistan.

"We do not make demands of our friends," she said. "We are having discussions with your [Pakistani] government as you all know. And the nature of these discussions have already been provided to you by your President [General Pervez Musharraf]."

Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf has said he will fully cooperate with Washington in its fight against terrorism, including sharing intelligence and allowing the use of Pakistan's airspace.

Meanwhile, the United States has rescheduled $375 million in debt owed by Pakistan. Washington had earlier lifted sanctions imposed against Pakistan and India in 1998 after the countries tested nuclear weapons.

U.S. Ambassador Chamberlin says Washington is "looking seriously" into removing additional sanctions imposed on Pakistan for the 1999 military coup that ousted the elected government. She says Monday's financial agreement will help Pakistan reduce its repayment burden.

"Concluding this agreement at this crucial time and by waiving our nuclear-related sanctions over the weekend, we hope to send a strong signal of confidence in Pakistan's management of its economy," she said. "And, in the coming weeks, the United States will be looking at other ways in which it might support Pakistan's economic development and reforms program."

Pakistan's assistance in a possible U.S. military attack against targets in Afghanistan is considered key because Islamabad has close ties with the ruling Taleban, which harbors Osama bin Laden. But Pakistan government's support for Washington has triggered opposition at home from Islamic groups.