Sun, 16 Oct 2011 10:12:55 GMT

Hillary Clinton to visit Islamabad next week: daily

Islamabad, Oct 16 (PTI) US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad next week as part of her trip to several Islamic countries and is likely to make a policy statement on Pakistan and Afghanistan, a news report said today.

She would call on President Asif Ali Zardari during a day-long visit and will deliver a message from President Barrack Obama, ''Jang'' newspaper reported.

Clinton will also speak at a gathering of Pakistani defence and analysts of strategic affairs and will make a policy statement on Pakistan and Afghanistan, it said.

Earlier a private TV channel ''Dunya'' had also reported that Hillary Clinton would visit Islamabad on October 20.

There was no confirmation of the visit by the government and the US embassy.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said in Lahore today that both sides would discuss how to improve bilateral relationship during Hillary Clinton''s visit.

But he did not say when she would be visiting the country.

''Daily Jang'' reported that the US Secretary of State will also travel to Kabul for a meeting with President Hamid Karzai.

The visit will take her to Iraq and Libya, the report said.

The visit to the country will take place at a time when there has been an increase in tension between the two nations over Washington''s recent accusations that Islamabad has links with armed Afghan militant groups.

Senior US officials including Secretary for Defence Leon Panetta claimed that Pakistan''s spy agency backed the Taliban-linked Haqqani network in its attack on the US embassy in Kabul last month.

Panetta had also threatened unilateral action against the Haqqani network and other Pakistan-based armed groups.

Islamabad had angrily reacted to the US Defence Secretary threats and dismissed the remarks as contrary to the bilateral cooperation in the joint efforts against militants.

The US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Ambassador Marc Grossman visited Pakistan on Thursday, the first senior American official to visit Pakistan amid tension over US allegations against Pakistan''s spy agency.

He did not respond to questions from journalists when he spoke at a joint press interaction along with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.

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