"In 'close contact' with Zardari, Washington distancing from Musharraf"

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Washington, May 6 : US Deputy Secretary of State, John D Negroponte has said that Washington was distancing itself from Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and extending its support to the new democratic government in Islamabad.

The US administration was keeping "a close contact" with PPP C-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, he said and added that the US had lent strong support to the electoral process in Pakistan and also engaged Musharraf to take off his uniform.

"In the wake of 9/11 we personalised the character of Pakistan's co-operation with us by saying that Musharraf was an indispensable ally, but really it was shorthand for the nation of Pakistan and it is shorthand for saying that Pakistan is in indispensable situation in dealing with the threat of terrorism," the Daily Times quoted him as saying.

Parrying a question that Musharraf still had powers to dissolve the parliament, Negroponte said that the February 18 polls were 'an important step' for Pakistan.

To a question about Afghanistan's non-recognition of the Durand Line as the international border with Pakistan, Negroponte replied that it was the defacto border between the two countries and there had been greater interaction and dialogue between Kabul and Islamabad.

He made it clear that the US would not countenance the FATA region to be used for mounting attacks on Pakistan itself, Afghanistan and the West.

ANI

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