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Senior US diplomat in Pak for talks on Ind tensions

The top US diplomat for South Asia arrived in Pakistan for talks with the country's leadership on simmering tensions with India in the wake of the deadly Mumbai attacks, an official said.

world Updated: Jan 05, 2009 11:17 IST

The top US diplomat for South Asia arrived in Pakistan on Monday for talks with the country's leadership on simmering tensions with India in the wake of the deadly Mumbai attacks, an official said.

Richard Boucher, the assistant US secretary of state for South and Central Asia, was to meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, a foreign ministry official said.

The official said talks would focus on relations between India and Pakistan. The two sides have been at daggers drawn since the attacks on India's financial centre in late November, which killed 172 people, including nine of the attackers.

Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday in New Delhi had handed over to Islamabad what it said was evidence linking the Islamic militants who carried out the attacks to "elements in Pakistan."

New Delhi has blamed the attacks on the banned Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is fighting Indian rule in divided Kashmir.

A number of US officials have visited both Pakistan and India, including US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her deputy John Negroponte, following the attacks in a bid to defuse tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Boucher was also expected to discuss Pakistan's ongoing cooperation in the US-led "war on terror".

Officials in Washington and Kabul have repeatedly said Pakistan is not doing enough to crack down on Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked militants in its rugged tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan.

The United States and Afghanistan say the militants maintain bases in Pakistan, from which they plan and launch attacks on Afghan and foreign forces across the border.

Indian media reported that Boucher was also due in New Delhi, but officials were not immediately available to confirm his itinerary.