Rocca in Pakistan for talks on terrorism, Afghanistan

Associated Press

Islamabad, May 11:

US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca was in Pakistan today for talks with government leaders on the war against terrorism and to visit US-funded development projects. Rocca arrived late yesterday as “part of periodic consultations” between Pakistan and the United States, said Masood Khan, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.

Rocca is scheduled to meet tomorrow with President Gen Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Jamali Zafarullah Khan and other senior government officials to discuss counterterrorism and the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Today, she visited US-funded health and education projects in the northwestern city of Chitral, Khan said. Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in tracking Taliban and Al Qaeda suspects along the border with Afghanistan. Hundreds of such militants are believed to be hiding in Pakistan’s tribal regions. The United States has urged Pakistan to “kill or capture” the militants, whom Pakistan targeted in a major military operation in March but has since been trying to persuade to take up an amnesty offer. Washington has also asked Pakistan to send peacekeeping troops to Iraq, but Islamabad says it will only do so under the aegis of the United Nations. Khan would not say whether that request was likely to come up in the talks with Rocca, who is due to leave Pakistan on Thursday. A spokesman for the US Embassy declined to discuss details of Rocca’s programme.