Islamabad denies anti-US talks

The Pakistan Government denied media reports yesterday that it was lobbying Afghanistan to drop its alliance with Washington and look to Islamabad and Beijing to forge a peace deal with the Taliban and rebuild its economy.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Pakistani Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani, "bluntly" told the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, to "forget about allowing a long-term US military presence in his country", according to Afghans present at a meeting between the two men on 16 April. However, Pakistan's ambassador in Washington, Hussain Haqqani, wrote on Twitter: "Reports claiming Gilani-Karzai discussion about Pakistan advising alignment away from US are inaccurate."

A foreign ministry spokeswoman, Tehmina Janjua, said: "It is the most ridiculous report we have come across."