White House backs Kerry's Pakistan trip
Washington: The White House on Wednesday endorsed Senator John Kerry's trip to Pakistan, which is aimed at easing a confrontation with the key US anti-terror ally over the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, who acts independently but often in concert with the Obama administration, is due to visit Pakistan early next week.
"We encourage the trip he is making," said White House spokesman Jay Carney, though declined to say whether the former 2004 Democratic presidential nominee would be carrying a specific message from Obama.
Carney said Kerry's trip was "important and part of the overall efforts by the United States government to continue our collaborative relationship with Pakistan and the cooperation that we've seen in the past.
"While we don't always see eye-to-eye on the issues ... our cooperation has led to some very important successes in our war against al Qaeda."
Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been a steadfast champion of greater US engagement in Pakistan and argues that Washington and Islamabad need to work through current tensions fueled by the May 2 US special forces raid in Abbottabad which killed bin Laden.
Asked whether he would press Pakistani leaders on whether officials there knew the al Qaeda chief was living near an elite military academy for years, Kerry told reporters he would be discussing "all the relevant issues that are on the table, and there are a lot of them."
"We have a huge agenda, we have huge interests that are very important to try to be on track, right, and there's a lot to discuss," said the senator, whose visit would be the highest profile US stop in Pakistan since bin Laden's death.