Two top US officials cancel Pak visit

Islamabad: Two top US officials have called off visits to the Pakistani capital without assigning any reasons, reflecting the current tensions between the two countries as they struggle to reset their troubled ties a year after the killing of Osama bin Laden.

US Senate Intelligence Committee chairperson Dianne Feinstein was scheduled to arrive in Islamabad last night while Gen John Allen, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, was expected to arrive on Thursday.

Allen was to meet the military leadership while Feinstein was scheduled to hold talks with the top civil and military leadership, including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Both visits were cancelled at the last minute, diplomatic sources told PTI.

Feinstein`s visit was being seen as a follow-up to last week`s trip to Islamabad by Special Envoy Marc Grossman, who was unable to break an impasse in Pakistan-US ties, largely due to Islamabad`s insistence on an apology from Washington for a cross-border NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

US officials had also signalled to their Pakistani interlocutors that Feinstein intended to take up the issue of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, for whom the US has offered a 10-million dollar bounty, during her planned meetings in Islamabad.