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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Pakistan in US Guantanamo talks
by Zaffar Abbas
BBC, Islamabad

Detainees at Guantanamo Bay
There are more than 30 Pakistanis at Guantanamo Bay
In Washington, senior Pakistani and American officials are discussing the fate of more than 30 Pakistani prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.

Faced with growing criticism at home on the continuous detention of these suspects, Islamabad has been trying to persuade the US for an early release of all its remaining citizens.

Pakistan maintains that more than 50 of its citizens, arrested in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taleban regime, were not directly linked to al-Qaeda or any other militant organisation.

Some released

Most of them were said to be Islamic missionaries that were sympathetic to the Taleban but were not involved in violent activities.

After thorough investigations, the Americans released some of the Pakistanis, who were sent home in different phases during the last two years.

But American investigators still have doubts about the involvement of more than 30 Pakistani citizens who are still being kept at Camp Delta along with hundreds of other al-Qaeda suspects.

However, during US Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit to Islamabad last month, the Pakistani Foreign Minister, Khursheed Kasuri, announced that the two sides had agreed to jointly screen the remaining Pakistani prisoners for their possible release from detention.

A senior interior ministry official, Brigadier Javed Iqbal Cheema, who had met most of these detainees last year, is leading the Pakistani side in these talks, which are expected to last for three days.


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