The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rocca holds talks, militants in custody

Islamabad, Dec. 16 (Reuters): US assistant secretary of state Christina Rocca met members of Pakistan’s new government today as three Islamic guerrillas appeared in court accused of planning a suicide attack on US diplomats in Karachi.

Rocca’s talks in Islamabad, including with foreign minister Mian Kursheed Mehmood Kasuri, covered Pakistan’s support for the US-led war on terror, tensions with India and boosting economic cooperation.

The envoy, who has responsibility for South Asian affairs, is due to meet President Pervez Musharraf and the new civilian Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali tomorrow. Musharraf handed executive powers to Jamali last month after an October election.

Pakistan police arrested three men in the southern port city of Karachi on Saturday and seized a Volkswagen Beetle car packed with explosives. Police also seized a 10-tonne stash of explosive ammonium nitrate powder at a warehouse in the city.

Today a local court allowed police to keep the suspects in custody for investigation until December 28.

Police said the trio planned to ram the Volkswagen into a car driven by US diplomats in Karachi, a city where foreigners and the US consulate have come under deadly attacks this year.

Interior minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said he did not think the plot was related to Rocca, a frequent visitor to Pakistan.

The alleged plot underlined the threat still posed by Islamic militants more than a year after a US-led coalition ousted the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s support for Washington in the campaign incensed Islamic militants, blamed for a spate of bloody bombings in the country targeting Christians and foreigners.

Rocca’s visit also comes as tensions between India and Pakistan have eased. The nuclear rivals scaled down a massive border troop deployment following an attack on the Indian parliament by suspected Islamic militants a year ago.

A Pakistan foreign ministry statement said Rocca and Pakistani officials agreed Pakistan and India should resume a dialogue to settle outstanding issues.

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