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US offers help to Pak in killing probe

world Updated: Jan 01, 2008 10:39 IST
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With questions being raised on the credibility of the Pakistan government's probe into the killing of former premier Benazir Bhutto, the US has offered to provide "any assistance or guidance" required by Islamabad for a "full investigation" into the assassination.

The Bush administration, however, made it clear that Pakistan has not asked it for any help. "Obviously they're a sovereign government and they will have to be conducting that investigation. We have offered to provide any guidance or assistance that is requested," White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel said at a briefing in Crawford, Texas.

"At this time, as far as I'm aware, none has been requested of the United States, but that is a matter for the Pakistani government to move forward on; it's early in the investigation," he said.

The spokesman said that it was in the interest of the people of Pakistan that a "full investigation" is held.

"I think it's in the interest of long-term prospects for democracy in Pakistan that be the case," he said.

"And we stand ready to help Pakistan, should they request our assistance with that.... I think that 's what everyone expects and I think that's in everyone's interests," Stanzel added.

The White House also insisted that Pakistan government should set a specific date for election in case the vote is put off. "In terms of the elections, that is also -- free and fair elections, as we've noted before, are an important part of the democratic society, and it's up to the political parties in Pakistan to come to an agreement on that," the spokesman said.

"We do believe that Pakistan should set a specific date so the process can be open and predictable. But in terms of the precise timing of that, that's up to the people in Pakistan," Stanzel said.