Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Friday, 30 October 2009

Clinton ends tough Pakistan trip

Hillary Clinton: "We have questions that we are seeking answers for"

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been meeting tribal leaders in north-west Pakistan on the last day of a testing visit to the country.

During her three-day trip Mrs Clinton hoped to strengthen ties between the US and Pakistan and tried to address a rising tide of anti-American feeling.

In an interview with the BBC she urged Pakistanis to "realise the connection" between al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

But her arrival was overshadowed by a deadly bombing in the city of Peshawar.

More than 100 people died when a car bomb exploded in a busy market on Wednesday.

The BBC's Jill McGivering says that a great deal of anger in Pakistan is focused on the US - widely seen as interfering and destabilising Pakistan for its own ends.

Kim Ghattas
Kim Ghattas, BBC News, Islamabad

Hillary Clinton, reaching out one more time to Pakistan, is working to overcome tensions in a relationship she has described as scarred.

On her third day here and after countless roundtables and town hall meetings it appeared people were starting to be a bit more receptive. But in a BBC interview she acknowledged that challenges remained. Washington wants Pakistan to go after al-Qaeda and the hardcore Afghan Taliban.

Mrs Clinton leaves Pakistan encouraged by what she heard in official meetings but very much aware of the deep-seated mistrust of America here. Washington doesn't necessarily want to be loved here but it does need to manage the tension.

Mrs Clinton's tone was mainly appeasing, our correspondent says, as she lavished praise on the army for its efforts to fight militancy.

Mrs Clinton also faced America's critics when she addressed a group of belligerent students in Lahore.

'Impressive resolve'

But speaking to Pakistani newspaper editors in Lahore on Thursday evening, she said she found it hard to believe that nobody in the Pakistani government knew where al-Qaeda was hiding in the country and "couldn't get them" if they wanted.

In an interview with the BBC, Mrs Clinton clarified her comments and the US view of the Pakistan government's commitment to combating militancy.

"Of course we are very encouraged to see what the government is doing. At the same time, it is just a fact that al-Qaeda had sought refuge in Pakistan after the US and our allies went after them because of the attack on 9/11," she said.

"And we want to encourage everyone, not just the Pakistan government or the military but Pakistani citizens to realise the connection between al-Qaeda and these Taliban extremists who are threatening Pakistan. They are part of a syndicate of terror."

Hillary Clinton in Lahore

Mrs Clinton said she was "very impressed by the resolve" of the Pakistani leadership in stamping out the militant threat.

But Mrs Clinton came face-to-face with many of the difficulties that have blighted Pakistan in recent weeks. On the day of her arrival, a massive car bomb obliterated a market in Peshawar.

It was just the latest in a series of attacks on civilian and military targets across the country - as Pakistan pursues an anti-Taliban offensive in the tribal region of South Waziristan.

Resentment has been further stoked by a US bill which grants aid to Pakistan - but on certain conditions.

Our correspondent adds that it would be hard to imagine a more hostile and sceptical audience for a US secretary of state.

Mrs Clinton acknowledged there was what she called a trust deficit towards the United States in Pakistan because of past policies.

But she said she was working to change that by reaching out to ordinary Pakistanis.

Mrs Clinton is due in the Middle East at the weekend to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

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