Tuesday, March 23, 2010

US “gratified” by Pakistani arrests of Taliban leaders

WASHINGTON: The United States is “extremely gratified” that Pakistan has arrested key Taliban leaders, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke said on Friday when asked to comment on a former UN official’s statement that the arrests had squandered Afghan peace efforts. At a briefing at the State Department on the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue, Mr Holbrooke also indicated greater US interests in helping Pakistan overcome the grave energy crisis that has paralysed the Pakistani economy.
“These will be very broad and very complex” talks, said Mr Holbrooke when asked if the US would also consider Pakistan’s request for nuclear reactors for producing electricity.
Mr Holbrooke came to the briefing from the White House where he attended a meeting of senior US officials who will participate in the strategic dialogue with Pakistan.
He described the forthcoming talks as the most important ever between the two countries and also said that the level of participation would be higher than ever before.
Mr Holbrooke confirmed that Gen Ashfaq Kayani, US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, Chairman of Joints Chiefs of Staff Adm Mike Mullen and other military officials will participate in the dialogue. Pakistan, he said, was also sending its director general for military operations. The DGMO usually focuses on India and his participation indicates that relations between the two neighbours may also figure prominently in the talks.

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