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NATO chief in Pakistan for security talks


Islamabad : NATO’s secretary general was holding talks Thursday in Islamabad on Pakistan’s increased cooperation in the fight against Islamic militancy and the security of a key supply route for Western forces in Afghanistan, a Foreign Affairs Ministry official said.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was expected to meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

“The talks will focus on the security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal region and on ways to enhance cooperation between the allies in the fight against terrorism,” a ministry spokesman said.

“The NATO chief is also expected to ask Pakistan to intensify security for the military supplies running through Pakistan,” he added.

Currently, more than 75 percent of NATO’s supplies, including 40 percent of fuel for its troops in landlocked Afghanistan, is transported overland through Pakistan’s Khyber tribal district.

But Islamist militants in recent months have conducted dozens of raids on truck terminals in Peshawar and convoys in the adjacent Khyber district, forcing the authorities to repeatedly close down the strategically important supply route.

US General David Petraeus announced Tuesday that an agreement had been reached for new supply routes through Russia and Central Asian states.

But the new routes would be much longer and more expensive, and NATO would still want to keep the Pakistan supply route open.