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Clinton arriving in Pakistan on Wednesday to discuss security

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 21:06

Islamabad: US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton will arrive here on Wednesday for meetings with Pakistan’s
top leadership, during which the ongoing offensive against the
Taliban and the regional security situation are expected to be
the top agenda.

Details about Clinton`s first visit to Pakistan since
assuming her position are being kept under wraps due to
security concerns in the wake of a deadly wave of bombings and
suicide attacks unleashed by the Taliban.

Clinton is expected to meet President Asif Ali
Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Army chief Gen
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi
during her four-day visit, sources said.

On Friday, Clinton will meet elders and leaders from
Pakistan`s northwest and the tribal belt, where the Army has
launched an operation against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan
led by Hakimullah Mehsud.

The powerful Pakistani armed forces leadership may
take up its concerns about conditions attached to US military
aid for Pakistan during the visit.

The USD 2.3 billion aid to Pakistan is part of USD 680
billion 2010 Defence Authorisation Bill, which was passed by
the Senate and the House of Representatives early this month.

Last month US President signed the Kerry-Lugar bill,
which envisages providing non-military aid of USD 7.5 billion
to Pakistan over five years but with strings attached to it.

The Army`s objections primarily relate to clauses in
the US bill about Pakistan`s nuclear weapons programme, ending
support for cross-border activities by Pakistan-based militant
groups and the civilian government`s role in military
promotions and appointments.

The military and political leadership could also take
up the issue of speedy reimbursement of Pakistan`s expenses
for the war on terror and the need for sophisticated equipment
and weapons for the campaign against the Taliban, sources said to a news agency.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan and
Pakistan Richard Holbrooke has described Clinton`s visit to
Islamabad as the most important trip she will be undertaking
since she became Secretary of State.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - 21:06
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