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Powell, Musharraf Hold Talks in Islamabad - 2004-03-18


Secretary of State Colin Powell has met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and other senior officials in Islamabad for talks on a wide range of issues, including the hunt for al-Qaida terrorists and nuclear non-proliferation.

At a news conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri, Mr. Powell announced plans to designate Pakistan a "major non-NATO" U.S. ally a step that makes it easier for foreign governments to acquire U.S. military hardware.

Mr. Powell said he used his meetings with Pakistani officials to press for more information about the proliferation activitism of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who has admitted selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Mr. Powell said he wants to know about the role current and past Pakistani officials may have played in aiding Mr. Khan.

Mr. Kasuri said he shares U.S. interest in completely uprooting the proliferation network headed by Mr. Khan. But he said the scientist had a great deal of independence from the government in his work.

Mr. Powell praised Pakistan and India for starting a peace process, but declined to comment on Kashmir, which Pakistan says is the core issue in the South Asian rivalry.

Before traveling to Pakistan, Mr. Powell made a stop Wednesday in Afghanistan where he praised Pakistani military operations against militants near the Afghan border.

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