Zardari directs authorities to change visa policy for US diplomats

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Islamabad, July 18 (ANI): In an apparent bid to please the United States just before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to the country, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has directed the Foreign Office to change visa policies for American diplomats.

Clinton is likely to stopover at Islamabad on July 19 before going to Kabul, where she would be taking part in an international donor's conference.

According to reports, Zardari has asked the Foreign Office to authorise country's Envoy in Washington Hussain Haqqani to issue visas to diplomats, officials and military personnel for up to one year.

Currently, the ambassador can issue three-month entry visas only.

The Dawn quoted sources as saying that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has also given his consent over the new visa policy, which would be implemented soon.

The visa issue has been a constant cause of contention between Pakistan and United States in the recent times.

Washington has been blaming Islamabad of deliberately slowing down the process of granting visas to its diplomats, and in response it has also held back travel documents of several Pakistani officials.

Pakistan fears that the United States is increasing its intelligence presence in the country by sending more and more officials. (ANI)

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