Pakistan ISI chief to visit US from Aug 1 to 3

Washington/Islamabad: Pakistan`s ISI chief Lt Gen Zahir-ul-Islam will visit the US from August 1 to 3 to meet his CIA counterpart David Petraeus, the first meeting between the spy chiefs amidst persisting tensions between their countries.

"This will be a service-to-service bilateral visit, wherein he will meet his counterpart General David H Petraeus, Director of the CIA," the military`s media arm today said in Islamabad in a brief statement without giving details.

On his maiden visit to the US after his appointment as the ISI chief, Islam is expected to raise Pakistan`s demand for ending US drone strikes in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, counter-terror cooperation and intelligence- sharing.

In lieu, he is likely to offer to take action against terrorist networks and to "deploy F-16s" in the tribal areas, but would seek greater intelligence sharing from the US.

The two spy chiefs are expected to meet in Washington on August 2. Islam had called off a visit to the US two months ago when bilateral relations plunged to an all-time low.

The meeting between Islam and Petraeus would be a "make or break" affair since it could determine future relations between various organisations in Pakistan and the US, including the General Headquarters and the Pentagon, Pakistani media reports have said.

Sources in Washington said Islam is coming prepared to "talk tough" with his American counterparts and with his own set of demands and to do list for the US.

Pakistan has been pushing for an end to missile strikes by CIA-operated drones, saying they are counter-productive and a violation of the country?s sovereignty.

Islam is likely to ask the US to provide drone technology to Pakistan so that the military can target militants in the tribal belt.

The ISI chief is also expected to drive down to the Capitol Hill to meet top Congressmen, in particular those members of the intelligence and foreign affairs committees. He is expected to "strongly articulate" the viewpoint of ISI to the US lawmakers, who of late have been strongly critical of the spy agency`s role in the war against terror.

As the US prepares to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by 2014, the ISI chief, officials said, would seek assurance from the US that interest of Pakistan would be protected and taken care of. Following Islam`s visit, Petraeus is expected to come to Pakistan during a trip to countries in the region.

The ISI chief had held a meeting with Gen John Allen, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, when he accompanied Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on his recent visit to Kabul.

Pakistan recently ended a seven-month blockade of supply routes to Afghanistan after the US apologised for a cross-border NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November.
The movement of supplies has been temporarily suspended following militant attacks on container trucks.

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