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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Islamabad earlier today, meeting with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. The meeting wrapped up a short but intense round of talks with top officials from both countries, and comes at a time of severe strain in U.S.-Pakistan relations.
NPR's Jackie Northam is traveling with Secretary Clinton and has this report.
JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: Today's meeting with Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Khar was brief. And at a press conference afterwards, the two women who were cordial if stiff. It was a far cry from the tone of the meeting with just 12 hours earlier that U.S. officials described as extremely frank and very detailed.
Clinton led an unusually high-profile delegation that included CIA chief David Petraeus and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Clinton said the discussions with the Pakistani leadership focused on Afghanistan and counterterrorism. At the press conference, Clinton hinted that progress was limited.
SECRETARY HILLARY CLINTON: Now, it is no secret that the United States and Pakistan do not always see eye to eye. And we will not resolve the differences in our views in any single visit.
NORTHAM: A major point of concern for the U.S. is Pakistan's ties with the Taliban and the so-called Haqqani network, Afghan insurgents who have bases in Pakistani territory. During the day, Clinton confirmed rumors that the U.S. had a meeting with members of the Haqqani network. State Department officials, speaking on background, said there was just one meeting, it happened in the summer, and that it was at the request of Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI.
Since then, there have been attacks in Afghanistan blamed on the Haqqanis, including the prolonged assault on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul last month. At today's press conference, Clinton once again addressed Pakistan's willingness to allow insurgents to base themselves on Pakistani soil.
CLINTON: For too long, extremists have been able to operate here in Pakistan and from Pakistani soil. No one who targets innocent civilians - whether they be Pakistanis, Afghans, Americans or anyone else - should be tolerated or protected.
NORTHAM: Clinton's comments about militant safe havens in Pakistan are similar to those made by other senior Obama administration officials over the past few weeks. And they've hit a nerve, putting the Pakistani military and civilian leadership on the defensive. Foreign Minister Khar denied the charge several times during the press conference.
HINA RABBANI KHAR: Let me reconfirm that there is no question of any support by any Pakistan institutions to safe havens in Pakistan. Let me be unequivocal, completely clear on that.
NORTHAM: Khar and Clinton seemed to talk past each other at the press conference. Both voiced an abhorrence of terrorism, and the hope for a stable Afghanistan. But they approached the problems from different perspectives. At one point, Khar seemed annoyed by journalists' questions that suggested Pakistan was not doing enough to combat militants.
KHAR: There seems to be an impression that Pakistan does not look at this threat seriously and does not respond to this threat seriously. We have taken this threat seriously. We have acted against this threat.
NORTHAM: As Clinton left Islamabad, U.S. officials said they were confident the Pakistanis heard their message about what they'd like to see happen. Whether or not the Pakistanis choose to act is another question.
Jackie Northam, NPR News, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
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