ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan warned a top U.S. general Monday
that frequent missile strikes on its territory risk inflaming
Gen. David Petraeus met with Pakistan
Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar as part of his first international trip
since taking over U.S. Central Command on Friday.
indicated how crucial the U.S. considers Pakistan's support in the
fight against Islamist extremists, especially those in its neighbor
Afghanistan. But it also comes amid Pakistani calls to halt U.S.
missile strikes on suspected militant targets on its soil.
Defense Ministry statement said Mukhtar told Petraeus, Assistant U.S.
Secretary of State Richard Boucher and others in the entourage that the
missile strikes from drones "generate anti-America sentiments as well
as create outrage and uproar among the people."
The U.S. wants
Pakistan to do more to crack down on insurgents who use pockets of its
northwest region as sanctuaries from which to plan attacks on U.S. and
NATO troops in Afghanistan, where violence is running at its highest
levels since 2001.
The missile strikes in the border region indicate U.S. impatience with Pakistani efforts.
is suspected in at least 17 missile strikes in Pakistan since August.
Despite repeated Pakistani condemnations, the strikes have continued.
September, a U.S. ground assault in a tribal region in Pakistan's
northwest spurred outrage in Pakistan and prompted a flurry of
diplomatic activity. There have been no reports of additional ground
Acting U.S. Embassy spokesman Wes Robertson
declined to provide specifics on Petraeus' agenda for security reasons.
However, he also is expected to meet with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani, President Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan's army chief, Gen.
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
At the Defense Ministry, officials also
briefed Petraeus on Pakistani military operations against insurgents in
its border regions. According to the statement, both sides "stressed
the need for enhanced cooperation to eliminate the scourge of
Another topic that could come up during the general's
trip is negotiations with the Taliban. Pakistani and Afghan leaders
have vowed to seek talks with elements of the militant movement.
previously the top U.S. commander in Baghdad, has indicated support for
efforts to reach out to members of the Taliban considered moderate
enough to cooperate with the Afghan government.
Zardari was scheduled to arrive Tuesday in oil-rich Saudi Arabia to
request a deferral on oil payments and other possible support, the
Foreign Ministry said. Another potential topic: negotiating with the
Nuclear-armed Pakistan needs billions in outside
assistance to avoid defaulting on its international loans. The
impoverished nation of 170 million people is hampered by high
inflation, chronic power outages and a sinking currency.
said Zardari's visit could yield some temporary relief, but that he was
unlikely to return with a package that would render moot politically
unpopular IMF aid.