US vice president arrives for security talks in Pakistan

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ISLAMABAD - US Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday arrived in Pakistan on a one-day visit to discuss the security situation on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and efforts to deal with the Taliban insurgency.

Biden flew in from Afghanistan to meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Islamabad, a foreign ministry official said.

Biden was expected to try to convince the Pakistani military leadership to launch an operation in North Waziristan, which is considered the major source of cross-border militancy in Afghanistan.

He told reporters in Kabul Tuesday that Pakistan needed to do more to eliminate militant hideouts in its tribal region from where Taliban and Al Qaeda launch attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.

“It is going to require more pressure on the Taliban from the Pakistani side of the border than we have been able to observe so far,” he said during a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Pakistan’s economic meltdown and its impact on society was also to feature in the talks Wednesday, as the US administration is concerned about the slow pace of reforms to increase the revenue base in Pakistan.

It was expected that the vice president might offer more financial assistance to help Pakistan meet its challenges which include energy shortages, price hikes and rampant poverty.

Biden was also to discuss the military requirements of Pakistan as the country’s armed forces need more weapons before any offensive action in tribal areas.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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