U.S. general in Pakistan for talks on equipment

Other News Materials 19 August 2009 17:26 (UTC +04:00)

U.S. General David Petraeus and Pakistan military leaders would discuss on Wednesday expediting delivery of U.S. equipment to Pakistan so it can expand its offensive against Taliban militants, U.S. officials said, Reuters reported.

With U.S. troop strength growing in Afghanistan, the United States wants Pakistan to eradicate Islamist militant enclaves on its side of the border and prevent Taliban fighters from crossing into Afghanistan.

The Pakistani army has been battling militants in parts of the northwest for months but a commander said on Tuesday the army was short of equipment, including Cobra attack helicopters, needed for a large-scale ground operation.

"It is part of a substantial effort to strengthen U.S.-Pakistani military cooperation," U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, told Reuters, referring to the Patraeus visit.

Holbrooke said on Tuesday that Washington was trying to expedite delivery of equipment requested by the Pakistani army, including helicopters and parts.

Pakistan's request for equipment would "come up for sure" in talks between Petraeus and senior Pakistani military officials, Holbrooke said.

He said Pakistani army chiefs would also provide Petraeus with their assessment of the battle in the Swat valley, northwest of Islamabad, after a three-month offensive in which Pakistani forces have pushed back militants.

Pakistan forces have also stepped up attacks on Pakistani Taliban fighters led by Baitullah Mehsud in the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border.

Mehsud is widely believed to have been killed this month in a missile strike by a U.S. pilotless drone aircraft.