US-Pakistan hold second high-level talks in days


US special envoy Marc Grossman held talks with Pakistan’s leadership on Thursday, stepping up efforts to smooth over a crisis sparked by the US operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
In the second high-profile American visit to Pakistan in days, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan held talks with President Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and other senior cabinet ministers in Islamabad.
In a brief statement, Islamabad said only that the meeting followed talks with US Senator John Kerry on Monday, which came in the wake of the May 2 raid in Abbottabad that killed the Al-Qaeda chief.
A separate military statement after Thursday’s Grossman-Kayani meeting said “During the meeting the visiting dignitary discussed the future of Pak-US engagement concerning the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.”
Kerry said Tuesday Pakistan was stepping up efforts to battle extremists and help stabilise Afghanistan, where US-led foreign troops are trying to end a 10-year Taliban insurgency, amid pressure on US lawmakers to cut aid to Islamabad.
He said there were a number of “actions” that would lead to an improvement of the relationship and that were being undertaken.
“They are concrete, they are precise, they are measurable and they are in many cases joint — and we will know precisely what is happening with them in very, very short order,” he said.
Kerry said senior US officials would visit Islamabad to work on the details of implementing the initial steps and that if further talks went well, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would decide “when and if” to visit Pakistan.
Clinton told reporters at the State Department this week that Grossman’s visit would “continue more detailed consultations.”
Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders were left angry and embarrassed over a unilateral US raid that killed Al-Qaeda’s chief, who had been living, possibly for years, in a military academy town two hours’ drive from Islamabad.
It rocked the country’s seemingly powerful security establishment, with its intelligence services and military widely accused of incompetence or complicity over the presence of bin Laden in a suburban house in the city of Abbottabad.
Pakistan’s parliament demanded no repeat of the raid, although US President Barack Obama has reserved the right to act again.
The military threatened to review intelligence cooperation in the war on Al-Qaeda and Islamabad called the raid “unauthorised unilateral action”.