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CIA chief in Pak, to meet top officials

world Updated: Mar 21, 2009 18:36 IST

US Central Intelligence Agency chief Leon Panetta on Saturday arrived in Islamabad for crucial discussions with top Pakistani leaders on measures to deal with growing insurgency and fast-moving political events.

Panetta, the first high-ranking American official to be in Pakistan after the recent political turmoil in Islamabad, is scheduled to meet Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik and may also meet other top dignitaries, including the Army Chief.

The CIA chief's visit was unannounced keeping in view his security. Panetta flew into Islamabad after concluding his hectic visit to India.

His visit to Pakistan comes amidst media reports from the US that American officials are beginning to question the long-term prospects of President Asif Ali Zardari.

'The Wall Street Journal' said Panetta had been sent to guide the Obama Administration in fashioning a new US Pakistan policy amid a political upheaval there which had left Zardari significantly weaken.

US officials told the paper that they are nervous about what they see beyond Zardari.

"He (Zardari) has quietly supported US missile strikes against militants in Pakistan and it isn't clear whether the new power centers in the country will be as cooperative," the officials told the paper.