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Pakistan will provide US conditional access to Osama’s wives

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Pakistan will allow the US to question or take into custody the three wives of Osama bin Laden only if their “country of origin has been asked for permission”, according to US media reports.

One of slain Al Qaeda leader’s wives is from Yemen, CNN reported Monday citing a senior Pakistani intelligence source. The other two are from Saudi Arabia, it said, citing an unnamed US official.

All three were taken into Pakistani custody after the May 2 raid by US commandos that killed Osama.

Pakistani officials have said Osama’s family members will be repatriated to their home countries after initial interrogations. The 29-year-old Yemeni wife, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, was wounded during the raid.

The US official cited by CNN identified the other two women as Khairiah Sabar, also known as “Umm Hamza”, and Siham Sabar, or “Umm Khalid”.

The official identified the other men killed in the raid as Osama’s son Khalid; two couriers, known around the town of Abbottabad by the aliases Arshad Khan and Tariq Khan. The official would not provide their real names.

The wife of one of the couriers also died, the official said.

Pakistani authorities also have in custody eight of Osama’s children and five other children, ABC News reported citing a senior Pakistani military official.

Pakistan had so far resisted US investigators’ bids for access to Osama’s hideout in Abbottabad and the wives who lived there with him.

The White House said earlier that Pakistan declined to provide access to the widows or to the material that Pakistani authorities seized after the raid on Osama’s hideout.

But officials said they were working on gaining access.

“We’re going to have those conversations, and we hope and expect to make progress,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday.

“We think the relationship’s important, the cooperation’s important. We’ve had differences in the past and overcome them, and we think we can overcome them now.”

Gaining access to Osama’s hideout and his wives are among the key US demands to Pakistan.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])