Vol. 5 Num 1141 Tue. August 14, 2007  

Boucher to talk security, politics in Pakistan

Richard Boucher, Assistant US Secretary of State for South Asia, is due to visit Islamabad for top level security and counter-terrorism talks, officials said yesterday.

Foreign office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam confirmed the visit but gave no immediate details.

"He is planning a visit but I don't have a precise date," Aslam said.

US and Pakistani media have said he is due to arrive Monday on a one-day visit and is expected to meet with President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, among other senior officials.

Boucher's visit to the key US ally will be his second to Islamabad within a month.

It follows intense pressure on Musharraf to crack down on Taliban and al-Qaeda militants allegedly holed up in Pakistan's troubled northwestern tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.

It also comes in the wake of a political crisis triggered by Musharraf's attempt to sack Pakistan's independent-minded chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in March, which caused widespread protests.