U.S. envoys arrive in Pakistan

March 26, 2008 at 1:55 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, March 26 (UPI) -- Nawaz Sharif, a key figure in Pakistan's new coalition government, says the country should not become a killing field while fighting extremism.

Speaking to reporters after talks with visiting U.S. envoys John Negroponte and Richard Boucher, the former Pakistani prime minister, referring to U.S. pressures on Pakistan to fight Islamic extremists, said, "It cannot be that while wishing to ensure peace for others we turn our country to become a killing field," The New York Times reported.

"We want peace in America but we also want a peaceful Pakistan," Sharif said.

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Negroponte and Assistant Secretary Boucher arrived Tuesday in Pakistan for high-level talks. Also Tuesday, new Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani was sworn-in by President Pervez Musharraf.

The Times said Gillani had served as an aide to slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, whose Pakistan People's party leads the coalition, which includes Sharif's faction of the Pakistan Muslim League.

Musharraf, a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, has to be careful in dealing with the new coalition, which includes some of his bitterest critics.

Negroponte and Boucher met with Musharraf and Sharif Tuesday, and were scheduled Wednesday to meet Gillani and Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's widower and co-chairman of her PPP.

The Times reported both Sharif and Zardari have said they intend to negotiate with the militants who are fighting the Pakistani army.

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