Hillary in Pak on key mission

Last Updated 18 July 2010, 17:07 IST

Clinton landed in Islamabad where she will underscore the need for Afghan-Pakistani cooperation in winning the war but also announce plans to beef up US development assistance to Pakistan, which is rife with anti-American sentiment.

After a day of talks in Pakistan, she will attend an international conference on Afghanistan in Kabul.

Her visit to the region comes as American lawmakers and voters are increasingly questioning the course of the drawn-out war with rising death tolls among the US and international troops and growing questions about corruption.

Last month was the deadliest of the war for international forces: 103 coalition troops were killed, despite the infusion of tens of thousands of new US troops.

So far in July, 54 international troops have died, 39 of them American. An American service member was killed by a blast in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, and an American died in a blast in the south on Friday.

On the first leg of her trip, Clinton is seeking to convince the Pakistanis and their leaders that the US is committed to the country’s long-term development needs and not just short-term security gains. This, officials say, will lead to greater Pakistani cooperation on key US policy goals.

Still, they concede mistrust of the US runs deep, particularly over unmanned drone strikes which are aimed at militants but have also killed or maimed many civilians, including women and children.

Vali Nasr, a deputy to US envoy Richard Holbrooke, told reporters travelling with Clinton that overcoming the suspicion remains a work in progress. “We are beginning to see movement but this is not going to happen overnight,” he said.

(Published 18 July 2010, 17:07 IST)

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