CIA chief in Pakistan amid missile strike furor

March 22, 2009 04:02

The new director of the CIA held high-level talks in Pakistan after a provincial leader warned against expanding US missile strikes on al-Qaida and Taliban targets inside the country's thinly policed border with Afghanistan. Leon Panetta arrived in Pakistan on Saturday on his first overseas trip since taking office as the Obama administration seeks a strategy to turn around the faltering war against Taliban militants in neighboring Afghanistan. The United States is concerned that political turmoil in Pakistan is distracting its government and army from combating Islamist insurgents threatening the stability of the nuclear-armed country and the surrounding region. Panetta arrived from New Delhi, where Indian officials said they discussed the November terrorist attack in Mumbai, which has been blamed on a Pakistan-based militant group. In a meeting with the CIA chief Saturday evening, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani stressed the need to resolve his country's 60-year dispute with India over the divided Kashmir region so that Pakistan can "singularly focus its attention in eradicating the menaces of extremism and terrorism," Gilani's office said in a statement.

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