US to triple staff in Islamabad Embassy, eyeing Pearl Continental in Peshawar

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Islamabad, Sep.12 (ANI): The United States will double the number of its diplomatic staff in the Islamabad Embassy after the planned expansion of its diplomatic mission is completed.

The US is also planning to triple the number of its total staff.

In an interview with the BBC, Deputy Ambassador Gerald Festine admitted that negotiations are on to buy Peshawar's bombed Pearl Continental Hotel, where a diplomatic mission would be established.

"One of the proposals is to purchase the PC Hotel in Peshawar as it has all the basic infrastructure according to our requirements. The negotiations are on and no final decision has been made as yet," The Nation quoted Festine, as saying.

Responding a question regarding the alleged purchase 200 houses in Islamabad , Festine said such reports were 'baseless', but admitted that after the massive expansion work more residential facilities would be needed.

When asked about the controversial US security agency, Blackwater, being contracted in Pakistan, he said: "As far as security agencies are concerned, we are in contact with local security agencies, and similarly the discussions are underway with the US agencies as well."

Earlier, Interior Advisor Rehman Malik said that the claims regarding the presence of the Blackwater inside Pakistan was being investigated by intelligence agencies.

"The intelligence agencies are still probing the matter,"Malik said. (ANI)

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