Negroponte Urges Musharraf to End Emergency

A top U.S. official met with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday, urging the general to end emergency rule as soon as possible and allow free and fair elections.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte called for credible elections, which would be difficult while the emergency orders are in place. Negroponte said he was hoping to put a "derailed" political process back on track — implementing a transition from military to civilian rule.

Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister, has abandoned efforts to work with Musharraf on a transition. Negroponte spoke with Bhutto by phone on Friday.

Musharraf says he needs to keep the state of emergency in place to ensure peaceful elections. But the opposition parties say elections under such conditions would be a sham. The opposition parties are considering a boycott if that were to occur.

In an interview with the BBC, Musharraf warned that a "disturbed environment" might bring in dangerous elements that could pose a risk to Pakistan's control over its nuclear arsenal. But he added that if the country manages itself politically, and as along as the military is present, the weapons would be safe.

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