US official defends his contacts with Zardari | world | Hindustan Times
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US official defends his contacts with Zardari

Srongly defending his "social contacts" with Pakistan's ruling PPP leader and Presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari, the US Ambassador to UN has denied having acted as an adviser to him.

world Updated: Sep 04, 2008 09:11 IST

Srongly defending his "social contacts" with Pakistan's ruling PPP leader and Presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari, the US Ambassador to UN has denied having acted as an adviser to him.

Zalmay Khalilzad, who was accused of having "unauthorised contacts" with Zardari, rebutted criticism by US State Department officials who saw his acts as undermining the American policy.

Last week, an e-mail sent to Khalilzad by Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian affairs Richard Boucher had questioned his contacts and asked whether he was planning to "help and advice" Zardari.

The New York Times last month reported that the Bush administration was uneasy over some of Afghan-born Khalilzad contacts. "I have not provided him with any advice. The contacts have been social contacts for the most part," Khalilzad retorted.

He said his friendship with the Bhutto family preceded his role in the US government. After Benazir Bhutto's assassination, he said, he remained in touch with Zardari but those contacts were not so frequent as depicted in reports.

"I wanted to set the record straight. I have many contacts and friends around the world. I've been in the business a long time. Many of them precede my assignment, my role in the US government," he said.

"Just because I'm a government official now it doesn't mean I should end the relationships I've had with many people, particularly from the region of the broader Middle East, including Afghanistan and Pakistan," he said.

"These relationships have been useful for the United States," he added.