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Rice asks Musharraf to 'take off uniform'

Moreover, Washington suspends annual defence talks with Islamabad because of the political situation there.

world Updated: Nov 05, 2007 21:05 IST

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday said Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf should "take off his uniform", as Washington suspended annual defence talks with Islamabad because of the political situation there after the imposition of Emergency.

A day after she said the U.S would "review" its financial aid to Pakistan, Rice mounted pressure on Musharraf making a direct call that the General quit as Army Chief and restore civilian rule.

At a news conference in Ramallah, Rice urged Musharraf to follow through on past promises to "take off his uniform."

"I want to be very clear. We believe that the best path for Pakistan is to quickly return to a constitutional path and then to hold elections," she said.

"The more quickly and the more urgently that the Pakistan leadership and President Musharraf act on their stated desire to get back to a constitutional path, it will be for the better of everyone," she said.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates acting in tandem said in Bejing that the US was reviewing all its assistance programmes to Islamabad and urged Musharraf to restore democratic rule.

Rice said yesterday that the US would review aid to Pakistan but indicated it would not suspend aid wholesale. She had also said "the US did not put all its chips on Musharraf."

The US has provided about 11 billion dollars to Pakistan since 2001 for the war against terror after the September 11 terror attacks.

Meanwhile, Eric Edelman, undersecretary of defence for policy, who was supposed to head a US delegation to the two-day talks scheduled to open at Islamabad tomorrow, will not go until political conditions improve, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said in Beijing.

First Published: Nov 05, 2007 19:42 IST