Gates to ask Islamabad to stop criticising US drone strikes publicly

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Washington, Jan. 18 (ANI): US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who will arrive in Pakistan with a 125-member delegation this week, is likely to urge Islamabad to stop publicly criticising US drone attacks, as it would further increase the anti-American sentiments in the country.

The two-day talks between Gates' delegation and the Pakistani officials is also expected to discuss military supply routes to Afghanistan through Pakistan, and the expansion of its military presence at the US embassy in Pakistan.

During the discussion, Pakistan is likely to raise the issue of delay in reimbursement of the Coalition Support Funds and underline the "slow pace of delivering US military equipment to the country," the Dawn reports.

According to US sources, Pakistan wants increased military support to combat extremists while Washington wants Islamabad to expand the war from South to North Waziristan, where it says the Afghan Taliban are located.

Pakistan has yet to make the strategic decision to expand the war but the Obama team is pushing hard for that as part of their new surge strategy.

Gates will arrive in Islamabad after visiting New Delhi from Jan 19 to 21.

According to the Pentagon, regional security, Afghanistan and the tense relations between India and Pakistan will top the agenda for his meetings with Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

The US is calling on allies like India to step up their roles in Afghanistan following President Barack Obama's decision last month to send an additional 30,000 troops to battle a resurgent Taliban. (ANI)

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