Biden Reaffirms Alliance with Pakistan in Visit to Islamabad
By Pamela Constable
KABUL, Afghansitan -- Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) arrived in Islamabad, Pakistan, late Friday, just 11 days before he is scheduled to be sworn in as the U.S. vice-president. Biden, who is traveling with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), told Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari that the United States regards Pakistan as an "important ally and partner" in the war on terrorism.
Pakistan is embroiled in a tense confrontation with neighboring India, also a major U.S. ally, over allegations that a Pakistan-based Islamist group was behind the three-day siege in the Indian city of Mumbai in November that left more than 170 people dead. India has suggested that Pakistani state agencies were involved, which Zardari and other officials have vehemently denied.
Biden and Graham are expected to travel to Afghanistan in the next several days. In recent months, Biden has publicly expressed frustration with the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai, which is widely regarded as weak and corrupt. Karzai, in turn, has grown increasingly critical of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan.
The two senators are expected to press both Pakistani and Afghan authorities for tougher commitments to the battle against Islamist extremism as the United States prepares to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to bolster the protracted war against Taliban insurgents. The number would nearly double the current U.S. troop presence.
Posted at 2:32 PM ET on Jan 9, 2009
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