Extremists in Pakistan pose direct threat to US: Hillary Clinton

February 18th, 2009 - 11:47 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanWashington, Feb 18 (IANS) As Islamabad struck a new peace deal with the Taliban by agreeing to enforce Islamic law in Swat valley, the US said extremists in Pakistan pose a “direct threat” to Pakistan, the US and other nations in and outside the region.

The US is studying the agreement and trying to understand the Pakistani government’s “intention and the actual agreed-upon language”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters Tuesday in Tokyo, her first stop in a weeklong visit to East Asia.

“Activity by the extremist elements in Pakistan poses a direct threat to the government of Pakistan as well as to the security of the US, Afghanistan and a number of other nations not only in the immediate region,” she said according to a transcript released here by the State Department.

US and Japan had agreed to further step up “efforts with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan, because the stabilization of Afghanistan and Pakistan is a challenge for the entire international community”, Clinton said after talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone.

In Washington, state department spokesman Gordon Duguid was a little more circumspect.

“We are in touch with the government in Pakistan. We are discussing the issue,” he said but was “not sure about” the “characterization of what has gone on in Pakistan” as a peace deal with the Taliban.

Asked if it was a good development or a bad development, Duguid said: “We’ve seen these sorts of actions before. What is, of course, important is that we are all working together to fight terrorism, and particularly to fight the cross-border activities that some Taliban engage in in attacking in Afghanistan.”

In reply to a question whether the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke was aware of this development, he said: “Whether or not he had discussions on this point is something that I have not been briefed on.”

The envoy who returned to Washington Tuesday “was in India on the last day of his trip” when this happened.

“He did meet with a number of their foreign policy establishment, including the foreign minister, the national security adviser and the foreign secretary. And he was talking to India about their interest in regional stability,” said Duguid.

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