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Clinton Tells Islamabad: 'Take Decisive Steps' On Terrorism

  • RFE/RL

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged Pakistan to take "decisive steps" against Islamist militancy, on a previously unannounced visit to Islamabad.

Arriving early on May 27, Clinton's brief mission is aimed at repairing badly frayed relations after the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces in a garrison city near Islamabad on May 2.

After meeting with Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari and other Pakistani leaders, Clinton said the relations between the two countries had reached a "turning point."

"Today we discussed in even greater detail cooperation to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al-Qaeda and to drive them from Pakistan and the region. We will do our part. And we look to the government of Pakistan to take decisive steps in the days ahead," Clinton said.

Clinton also said that any peace deal in Afghanistan will not succeed unless Pakistan is part of the process.

Clinton acknowledged that Washington needs Islamabad's help in negotiating an end to the fighting in Afghanistan because Pakistan is thought to have influence over several Taliban commanders.

"As part of America's strategy, we are supporting an Afghan-led process that seeks to split the Taliban from Al-Qaeda and reconcile those insurgents who will renounce violence and accept the constitution of Afghanistan," Clinton said.

"We know that for reconciliation to succeed, Pakistan must be a part of that process."

Analysts say her remarks reflect the importance of continued engagement between Pakistan and Washington, despite suspicions among U.S. lawmakers that some Pakistani government or intelligence officials may have known where bin Laden was hiding.

Some U.S. lawmakers also are questioning whether Pakistan should be receiving billions of dollars in aid.

Clinton said Pakistani officials told her on May 27 that "somebody, somewhere" was providing support for Osama bin Laden in Pakistan before he was killed.

But she repeated there was no evidence anyone at the highest level in Pakistan's government knew that bin Laden was hiding in a specially built compound near one of Pakistan's top military academies.

Clinton also spoke out against anti-Americanism that has been on the rise in Pakistan since the killing of bin Laden.

Deepening Distrust

That operation left many Pakistanis humiliated and angry because authorities in Islamabad were not informed about the mission until the U.S. troops had flown out of Pakistani air space with bin Laden's body.

Clinton said: "Pakistan should understand that anti-Americanism and conspiracy theories will not make the problem disappear."

Clinton denied that her talks, held under tight security, were tense. She said she had heard Pakistani officials commit to "some very specific action," and said the country deserves more credit for its efforts in the war against terrorists and militants.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, accompanied Clinton in her meetings. They are the most senior U.S. officials to visit Pakistan since the killing of bin Laden.

Mullen reportedly pleaded for greater cooperation between the two wary allies in the war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

In the latest sign of deepening distrust between Washington and Islamabad, Pakistan has told the United States to halve the number of military trainers stationed in the country.

But officials in Washington say they are seeing some signs of improved Pakistani cooperation, including the return of the tail section of a stealth helicopter that crashed during the night-time raid in Abbottabad.

Islamabad also is allowing U.S. investigators to question bin Laden's wives.

In a further apparent move to reduce tension, Pakistani authorities on May 27 agreed to allow the CIA to send a forensic team to scour the former hide-out of bin Laden for new clues. The forensic experts plan to use special high-tech equipment to look for evidence hidden in walls or buried under floors.

Written by Ron Synovitz, with contributions from RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal
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