Powell: US to Send Team to Pakistan in ‘Next Several Days’
US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that the United States would send a team of officials to Pakistan in "the next several days," to follow up on Islamabad's offer to help with anti-terrorism measures.
"What we now have to do is send a team to Islamabad as soon as we have a better idea of what we will need and what support might be required and talk directly to our Pakistani friends," Powell said on CNN's "Late Edition."
Asked when the team would leave, Powell replied: "I would expect in the very near future, the next several days."
Powell said the leadership and composition of the team had not yet been decided but said it would work closely on the ground in Islamabad with US ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin.
On Saturday, Pakistan announced that would cooperate with the United States in fighting terrorism, particularly as it related to possible retaliation against Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the September 11 strikes on Washington and New York, and his hosts, Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia.
US officials say Pakistan, which neighbors Afghanistan and is one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban, has agreed to take a series of specific steps to deal with bin Laden.
Neither US or Pakistani officials have publicly said what those steps are but sources in Washington and Islamabad say they include intelligence sharing, a closure of the border and possible use of Pakistani airspace by US forces.
And, earlier Sunday, a source close to the Pakistani government said a Pakistani delegation was to travel to Kabul on Monday in a last-ditch bid to persuade the Taliban to hand over bin Laden and avert US military action against Afghanistan.
"Senior Pakistani officials are going to Kabul tomorrow to try to knock some sense into the Taliban," the source said. "We will make every effort to avoid any major catastrophe."
Powell said he could not confirm that such a delegation was going, but said there were indications the Pakistanis were leaning toward sending one -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)