US waiting for Pak confirmation on access to bin Laden`s wives

The US has not received any firm commitment from Pak on access to the wives of Osama bin Laden.

Washington: The US has not received any
firm commitment from Pakistan on it being given access to the
wives of Osama bin Laden, who were detained by authorities
after the killing of al Qaeda chief in Abbottabad last week.

Several US officials told reporters that talks in this
regard with Pakistani authorities are still going on.
Even though they are hopeful that they would finally
get an access, officials said, quite a few hurdles have to be
covered before Pakistan a firm commitment from Pakistan on
this issue.

"We have seen conflicting reports about whether US
would access to the women from the (Abbottabad) compound.

There are ongoing discussions. I do not have anything to
confirm or deny. We continue to work with the Pakistanis on
information sharing," Pentagon spokesman Col Dave Lapan told
reporters during an off camera press briefing yesterday.

"I have seen conflicting reports. My understating is
that we are still discussing this with the Pakistanis," Lapan
said in response to another question, which was echoed by his
State Department counterpart Mark Toner later in the day.

"We are in discussions with the Pakistani authorities.
There`s a variety of sources of information that we`re seeking
access to related to bin Laden’s house and the people there.

We believe we`re going to get there and we`re making
progress," Toner told reporters.

"We are continuing to work with Pakistan to make sure
that we have access to any information that could contribute
to our common goal here, which is continue our counter-
terrorism cooperation and making progress against extremists
in Pakistan and elsewhere. We believe we`re making progress
and we`re optimistic that we`ll be able to work through any
obstacles and increase our information sharing," Toner said.

The US is seeking access to three of bin Laden`s wives
because the Administration believes that it`s important to its
ongoing counter-terrorism cooperation and efforts that they
can provide valuable information.

"But as to their future, that`s a matter for the
Pakistani authorities," he said.

"We believe and are optimistic that we`ll be able to
work through obstacles in terms of information gathering and
sharing. And again, I`m talking more broadly, about access to
the wives," he said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan`s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir
yesterday said that Islamabad has not received a formal
request from the US for access to or handing over bin Laden`s
widows who are in the custody of authorities.

The US has not contacted Pakistan with regard to the
issue of handing over bin Laden`s widows, Bashir told
reporters outside parliament.