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British foreign secretary visits Musharraf

world Updated: Apr 21, 2008 17:46 IST

Britain's foreign secretary met with embattled President Pervez Musharraf on Monday, a day after backing plans by Pakistan's new government to negotiate with militants who renounce violence.

Musharraf and David Miliband discussed the war on terror and other issues during their meeting in Islamabad, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Sadiq said. Miliband, on a two-day visit to Pakistan, then went to see new Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

On Sunday, Miliband visited Peshawar, capital of North West Frontier Province, where he met with officials and relatives of people killed in militant attacks.

Pakistan's regions bordering Afghanistan are a hotbed for militants said to orchestrate attacks against the Western-backed Afghan government. British troops are part of a NATO mission helping fight the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan's volatile south.

In Pakistan, the militants have been blamed for dozen of attacks, including the suicide bombing that killed former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December. But the newly installed Pakistani government, led by Bhutto loyalists, has rebuked Musharraf's unpopular tactics of using the military to crack down on militants.

Gilani's government has offered to negotiate with militants who commit to nonviolence.

At a news conference in Peshawar yesterday, Miliband backed the approach, stressing the need for parties to lay down arms.

"We should negotiate with those who are willing to negotiate. We should reconcile with those who are willing to reconcile," he said. "I think it is important to make sure to find them a place in the political process those who are willing to renounce violence.