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Pakistan PM says no rift with president

Pakistan's main spy agency has given India information about the Mumbai terror attacks, the PM said on Friday, while denying media speculation of a rift between him and the president.

world Updated: Jan 09, 2009 16:14 IST

Pakistan's main spy agency has given India information about the Mumbai terror attacks, the PM said on Friday, while denying media speculation of a rift between him and the president.

The comments came as US Vice President-elect Joe Biden arrived in Pakistan for talks with the country's top military and political leaders. The US Embassy confirmed the visit but gave few details. Pakistan's fight against al-Qaida and the related insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan will be a major foreign policy concern for the incoming US administration.

South Asia's importance in the anti-terror fight was underscored by the November attacks that killed 164 people in Mumbai. New Delhi says it has passed on evidence to Islamabad that proves Pakistani militants were behind the slaughter.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters the country's premier spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, "had given feedback and information sharing that has been passed on to India" after studying that evidence. He gave no more information. On Wednesday, Gilani fired the national security adviser hours after the official told reporters the sole surviving Mumbai attacker was a Pakistani citizen something that Islamabad had previously been unwilling to acknowledge.

Local media reported President Asif Ali Zardari was not informed of the decision, intensifying earlier media speculation of a split between the country's top two leaders.

"There is no misunderstanding," Gilani insisted to reporters on Friday while denying reports that Zardari had expressed displeasure with the decision.

A spokesman for Zardari said on Thursday that the two were "on the same page" and it was Gilani's prerogative to fire Durrani. The Mumbai attackers are suspected to be members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant group created by Pakistani intelligence agencies in the 1980s to fight Indian rule in Kashmir, a Himalayan region claimed by both countries and the trigger for two of their three wars.

Some analysts say the group maintains ties to Pakistani intelligence and the government cannot act too aggressively against it as a result.

In recent weeks, several US envoys have visited India and Pakistan to defuse tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors and press Islamabad to take action against extremists on its soil. Biden is traveling to Pakistan in his capacity as a US senator. He is being accompanied by US Sen Lindsey Graham. Biden takes office as vice president on January 20, but has not yet resigned his Senate seat.