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Last Updated: Monday, 1 March, 2004, 14:33 GMT
Pakistan denies US Bin Laden deal
Osama Bin Laden
The American military believe Osama Bin Laden could be in Pakistan
The Pakistani government has strongly denied allegations that it has struck a deal which would allow US troops to hunt for Osama Bin Laden on its soil.

The weekly New Yorker magazine alleged that in return the US would support Islamabad's decision to pardon the top nuclear scientist AQ Khan.

Dr Khan last month confessed on television to leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Iran.

Islamabad said the New Yorker's claims were "absolutely absurd" and "untrue".

The magazine quotes an unnamed Pentagon official as saying that US Special Forces will be transferred from Iraq to Pakistan as part of the hunt for Bin Laden, whose al-Qaeda network is blamed for the 11 September, 2001 attacks in the US.

But Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan said his country would never trade its sovereignty for any issue.


"This report has no truth in it and there is no such deal... there is no secret deal or understanding," he said.

At the moment American troops officially operate only in Afghanistan, and US forces have expressed frustration about the ability of al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects to elude them by crossing the border into Pakistan.

Islamabad says it has deployed thousands of troops on the border with Afghanistan to stop such movements.

Meanwhile, religious leaders have met in the North Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan to demand the military stop its operations there, which they said should not take place without prior notification.

The meeting follows an attack on Saturday in which Pakistani soldiers killed 11 people in a shooting incident near the Afghan border as part of a drive against al-Qaeda and the Taleban.

The army says they were firing back at militants who attacked an army camp.

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