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US Pledges Closer Ties with Pakistan - 2003-10-06

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has met with leaders in Pakistan on anti-terror efforts in neighboring Afghanistan and operations against suspected al-Qaida forces hiding in Pakistan. Mr. Armitage is pledging to deepen U.S. ties with Pakistan.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage met with President Pervez Musharraf and other senior Pakistani officials Monday to discuss terrorism, regional security, and U.S. assistance to Pakistan.

Speaking to reporters after the meetings, Mr. Armitage said a "whole strategic relationship" came under discussion. "We are very interested in having a full-up relationship with Pakistan, not simply one based on the global war on terror, but one that covers the entire gambit: economic, social, political as well as, of course, security," said the American official.

Mr. Armitage also clarified a statement he made last week in Washington, in which he questioned the loyalties of some members of the Pakistani military in the U.S. war on terrorism. He says he believes Mr. Musharraf enjoys full confidence.

"I said here was some question of some individuals in the security services who might not have the same affection, that is, the same energy and the same regard for these efforts as President Musharraf," explained Mr. Armitage. "In no way do I have any sign that the military and the security forces, as institutions, are anything but 200 percent behind the nation and behind the president."

Mr. Armitage arrived in Islamabad after a day trip to neighboring Afghanistan, where he met President Hamid Karzi to discuss security issues and reconstructing the war-shattered country.

Mr. Armitage praised Pakistan for its recent operations against al-Qaida suspects hiding on the border area to stage attacks in Afghanistan. Last week Pakistan killed eight and captured 18 other al-Qaida-linked suspects in a highly publicized operation.

Afghan President Karzai still hopes Pakistan will do more to stop infiltration across the border.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri insists his country is doing its best to prevent militants from taking refuge in Pakistan. "There is no dearth of intention on our part," insisted Mr. Kasuri. "If there is it could be in the case of capacity. [And] capacity deals directly with intelligence, both human intelligence and technical intelligence, and with a capacity to mount heli-borne operations. It is not that we lack the intentions."

Pakistan is calling for the United States and Afghanistan to enhance anti-terrorism cooperation.