U.S. envoy's Pakistan visit put off

Jan. 17, 2012 at 11:25 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Special Envoy Marc Grossman's visit to Pakistan has been put off at Islamabad's request, a State Department spokesman said.

Spokesman Mark Toner disclosed the change in plans Tuesday after The Washington Post reported the Obama administration's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan had asked to visit Pakistan on his current trip but that Pakistani officials had said it would not be convenient.

"I think we talked about that even on Friday, that we received word that the Pakistanis felt -- the Pakistani government felt it would be best to wait until this parliamentary review is concluded," Toner said in reply to a question, the State Department Web site reported.

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported Grossman has been talking with U.S. allies in the Middle East about involving the Taliban in the reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The newspaper said the issue over Grossman's visit indicated further worsening of relations between the United States and Pakistan, arising from the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last May by U.S. forces, and the accidental deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers during a NATO airstrike last November.

In this charged environment, a Pakistani parliamentary committee is currently reviewing terms of cooperation with the United States.

Toner, in response to other questions, said, "We absolutely view Pakistan as an essential partner to these -- to this Afghan-led reconciliation process."

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