Hillary arrives on two-day Pakistan visit

October 20th, 2011 - 11:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, Oct 20 (IANS) US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived here Thursday evening on a two-day visit amid escalating tensions between Washington and Islamabad, Xinhua reported.

Pakistan’s ruling party senator Sughra Imam, senior officials of the foreign ministry and US diplomats welcomed Clinton on her arrival.

She flew from Kabul where she held talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Ahead of her Islamabad visit, Clinton said she would press Pakistan to take action against guerrillas who enter Afghanistan to attack US as well as Afghan forces.

Clinton will meet Pakistan’s civil and military leadership including President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

She will hold formal talks with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and they are likely to address a joint press conference Friday.

Clinton is accompanied by US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, Central Intelligence Agency Director David Patraeus and Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Michele Flournoy and US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman.

A section of the US media has described Clinton’s visit as “a list-ditch effort” to salvage America’s partnership with Pakistan, which is key to stability in Afghanistan at a time when the US has started withdrawal of troops.

The visit takes place at a time when Pak-US relationship has seen a sharp decline after the last month attack on the US embassy in Kabul and the truck bomb blast at a major American military base in Afghanistan’s Maidan Wardak province, blamed on the Taliban-linked Haqqani network.

Senior US military leaders accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency of supporting the Haqqani network in both attacks, the charges denied by Pakistan as irresponsible.

Analysts say Clinton’s visit will, among others, try to get soured relations with Pakistan back on track and push the leadership to act against the armed groups blamed for cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.

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