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US Seeks to Boost 'Moderate Center' in Pakistan

  • VOA News

The United States says it wants to see the "moderate center" of Pakistani politics strengthened in the face of the challenge by Islamic extremists.

State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack says Bush administration officials are talking with both Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

However, he declined to comment on whether Washington is advocating a unity deal between the two political leaders.

The New York Times newspaper today (Thursday) reported that the Bush administration has been "quietly prodding" General Musharraf to share power with Ms. Bhutto, his longtime political rival, in order to broaden the base of the troubled Islamabad government.

Earlier today, President Musharraf announced that presidential elections will be held between September 15th and October 15th.

Mr. Musharraf says that he wants to be re-elected by the current national and provincial assemblies before their dissolution for a general election expected in December or January.

Ms. Bhutto has said that if General Musharraf seeks re-election before a new parliament is voted in, her party may resign from the parliament or boycott the ballot.
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