The United States is welcoming Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's announcement that general elections will be held before mid-February.

The White House and State Department both commended General Musharraf for clarifying the voting timetable.

Hours before the announcement, President Bush made a personal telephone call to Mr. Musharraf, urging him to set an election date and shed his army uniform.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormick Thursday pressed the Pakistani leader to take additional steps to return to the country to democracy and constitutional rule.

The United States considers Pakistan a key ally in the war against terror, having given more than $10 billion to Mr. Musharraf's government since 2001. After emergency rule was declared Saturday, the United States warned it would review financial aid to Pakistan.

But on Wednesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told members of Congress cutting aid to Pakistan would be counter to the interests of both countries.

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