(AFP) – May 19, 2010
ISLAMABAD — Two of US President Barack Obama's most senior national security aides were holding talks in Pakistan on Wednesday in the wake of the failed New York car bombing, an official said.
The White House has said US national security advisor General James Jones and CIA Director Leon Panetta are on a mission to investigate the May 1 bomb plot, which has been blamed on the Pakistani Taliban.
"Both the delegations have arrived late last night. They will meet senior government and military officials. All the meetings are today," US embassy spokesman Richard Snelsire told AFP.
Talks would focus on "security cooperation" and "strategic dialogue," the spokesman said.
The discovery of a crude bomb inside a parked car in crowded Times Square prompted an evacuation of the popular tourist spot and a massive manhunt that culminated in the arrest of Pakistani-born US citizen Faisal Shahzad.
Authorities have been interrogating Shahzad since his dramatic arrest at JFK Airport in New York, as his Dubai-bound plane was about to take off.
He allegedly told interrogators that he visited Waziristan, in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt along the Afghan border, for bomb-making training.
Washington has called the border areas the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda, where Islamist militant groups plot attacks on US troops fighting across the border in Afghanistan and on targets overseas.
Under US pressure, Pakistan has stepped up military operations against the Taliban in much of the tribal belt over the last year, but the failed New York bomb plot has seen US officials call for more action.
"We believe that it is time to redouble our efforts with our allies in Pakistan to close this safe haven (the border area) and create an environment where we and the Pakistani people can lead safe and productive lives," a White House official told AFP in Washington on Tuesday.
A second US official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Panetta had been "building bridges" with the Pakistanis in counter-terrorism matters.
"It's important the Pakistanis hear our latest thinking on the common threat we face from the tribal areas," the official told AFP.
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