Zardari says "miscommunication" over ISI chief's visit

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New Delhi, Nov 29 (UNI) Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari today blamed "miscommunication" for the apparent backtracking by the Pakistan government on the decision to send the Director General of the ISI to help probe the terror attacks in Mumbai.

After first announcing yesterday that the ISI chief would visit New Delhi, Islamabad today said only a director-level official of the Inter-Services Intelligence would be travelling to India.

In an interview with the Devil's Advocate programme on CNN IBN television channel, Mr Zardari said his government had announced that a director would visit India. In fact, he said, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also requested for a visit by a "director" of the ISI.

"There was a miscommunication. We had announced that a Director will come from my side. That is what was requested by the Prime Minister and that is what we agreed," he said in the interview, which will be telecast tomorrow night.

"It is too early for the Directors General to meet at the moment.

Let the evidence come to light, let the investigation take its course. Then perhaps there is a position where the Directors General could meet," he said.

He went on to say that the ISI Director General was a "very senior officer" who did not get into investigations but only supervised them.

At the same time, he said Pakistan was committed to cooperating in investigations at the highest echelons of intelligence agencies, and this also included the Director General of the ISI.

At the outset, Mr Zardari said he was "appalled and hurt" by the terror attacks in Mumbai and the huge loss of life.

"I stand with the people of India," he said. "I feel their pain, I feel their loss." The Pakistani leader promised full cooperation in the investigation of the attack, which India has blamed on elements based in Pakistan. "This is a world incident. Nowadays, all terrorist attacks are world incidents because of multi-national casualties. World intelligence agencies will be involved," he pointed out. He said his government would cooperate fully in the investigation and take the strictest of action if anyone in his country was involved, "without any hesitation" and "in front of the world".

Mr Zardari also promised to close down terrorist training camps if any were found operating in his country and take action against those running them.

On the question of providing Indian investigating agencies access to people like Hafiz Mohammed Sayeed, Mohammed Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim, who have been accused of being behind many terrorist incidents in India, Mr Zardari said this could be done once a mutual process for giving access to each other in such matters was put in place by both the countries. He said he was prepared to set such a process in place.

Asked if he could deliver on these and other assurances to India, he said he would because it was in his interest to do so. Asked if India could trust him, he said, "India can trust the people of Pakistan." UNI SA SB KN2238

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