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February 11, 2002
1125 IST

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US irritated by Pak claims of Indian
hand in Pearl abduction

T V Parasuram Washington

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's allegation that there may be an Indian hand in the kidnapping of US journalist Daniel Pearl has deeply "irritated" US officials, who do not believe in the claim and worry it could re-ignite Indo-Pak tensions.

"State Department officials initially praised Musharraf's assistance in looking for Pearl. But Musharraf's recent comments alleging that India might have played a role in Pearl's disappearance have deeply irritated US officials," leading US daily USA Today said quoting officials.

"Washington believes India had no role in Pearl's kidnapping and also worries that Musharraf's comments could re-ignite India-Pakistan tensions," it said.

Commenting on the Pakistani president's visit to the US, the paper said the kidnapping of the Wall Street Journal reporter, who has been missing in Pakistan since January 23, will cloud the visit.

Although Musharraf will get a warm welcome in Washington, it said "doubts about his intentions have not vanished."

"US officials are not certain that Musharraf has decided which road to take in the future."

His speech last month, said the paper, was made "only after enormous US and British pressure urging him to try to defuse a dangerous crisis between India and Pakistan."

Though US officials, were "delighted" by the speech, they say they will use Musharraf's visit to continue to urge him, both publicly and privately, to take more concrete actions to move Pakistan towards becoming a more moderate society.

PTI

ALSO SEE:
Two More Held in Pearl Kidnapping Case

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