Negroponte urges peaceful transition

Sept. 13, 2007 at 6:28 AM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. official John Negroponte, visiting Pakistan, reportedly left the deportation of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif an internal issue.

Other than a plea for a peaceful move toward democracy in Pakistan, Negroponte, the deputy U.S. secretary of state, who arrived Wednesday for talks on terrorism and economic help, spared Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s government criticism of the incident, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Sharif, who was ousted by Musharraf in 1999, was exiled to Saudi Arabia four hours after he arrived Monday in Islamabad.

The deportation has been condemned by opposition groups in Pakistan but Negroponte, speaking at a news conference, said it is a “legal matter for the government and the people of Pakistan to decide.”

The Times said Negroponte indicated the United States would like a power-sharing agreement between Musharraf, who is seeking another term, and Benazir Bhutto, another former prime minister who unlike Sharif is seen as willing to work with Musharraf in the transition.

“We look forward to democratic elections being held in Pakistan quite shortly and we think it is quite important that there be a smooth and democratic political transition,” he said.

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