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Boucher (left) with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri in Islamabad today (epa) January 12, 2007 -- U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad today in a bid to calm tensions with Afghanistan.


The two neighbors have been engaged in a dispute over Pakistan's plan to fence and mine parts of its border with Afghanistan to prevent militant incursions.


Boucher was also expected to address concerns about terrorist activity within Pakistan.


On January 11, the United States' outgoing national intelligence director, John Negroponte, said that Pakistan, while a key U.S. ally in the battle against terrorists, is a source of Islamic extremism and a refuge for top terrorist leaders.


Negroponte said in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee that "eliminating the safe haven that the Taliban and other extremists have found in Pakistan's tribal areas" is insufficient to end the insurgency in Afghanistan but is a necessary component of ending that insurgency.


Negroponte is expected to soon move to the State Department to become deputy to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.


(dpa, AP)

Afghanistan And Pakistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (left) with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad in October 2005 (epa)

ACROSS A DIFFICULT BORDER. The contested border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is some 2,500 kilometers long and runs through some of the most rugged, inhospitable territory on Earth. Controlling that border and preventing Taliban militants from using Pakistan as a staging ground for attacks in Afghanistan is an essential part of the U.S.-led international coalition's strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan. Officials in Kabul have been pointing their fingers at Pakistan for some time, accusing Islamabad or intelligence services of turning a blind eye to cross-border terrorism targeting the Afghan central government. Many observers remain convinced that much of the former Taliban regime's leadership -- along with leaders of Al-Qaeda -- are operating in the lawless Afghan-Pakistani border region.... (more)


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