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US Diplomat Praises Afghan-Pakistani Cooperation

A top U.S. official is hailing pledges by Pakistan and Afghanistan to improve their relations and fight terrorism together.

Richard Boucher, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, told reporters Wednesday that both countries have demonstrated a "strong determination" to combat terrorists.

The U.S. diplomat is in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where he met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Earlier this week, Boucher met with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad.

Boucher said the only way to beat what he called the "menace" of the Taliban and other terrorists is through strong Afghan-Pakistani cooperation.

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari made his first official visit to Kabul this week for talks with Mr. Karzai.

The leaders said a new understanding had developed between their two governments, and that they are committed to fighting insurgents along their shared border.

Mr. Zardari said their countries have both the strength and desire to fight the militants. He said now they need more support, not troops, from foreign allies to do the job.

The countries' relations have not always been so friendly. Kabul in the past has accused Islamabad of not doing enough to handle militants using Pakistan to launch attacks on Afghanistan.

Many al-Qaida and Taliban militants fled to northwestern Pakistan's tribal regions after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.