IMAGE: BOUCHER AND PAKISTANI MINISTER
B.K. Bangash  /  AP
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri, right, welcomes U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Wednesday.
updated 8/15/2007 1:07:53 PM ET 2007-08-15T17:07:53

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher told Pakistan's president on Wednesday that Washington values his support in the fight against terrorism and reaffirmed his nation's desire to develop long-term relations with Islamabad, according to Pakistani officials.

Boucher made the comments at separate meetings on Wednesday with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri, according to a government statement and an official at the president's office.

There was no word from the American side about the meetings.

Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in its war on terror, and Boucher's visit comes amid rising U.S. pressure on him to do more to fight militants in Pakistan's tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, where American intelligence officials say al-Qaida and the Taliban may be regrouping.

It also comes amid a political crisis for the general as he seeks a fresh presidential term for five years.

At his meeting with Musharraf, Boucher said the United States "greatly values Pakistan's support" in the fight against terrorism, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.

Earlier in a meeting with Kasuri, Boucher said he "appreciated the contribution and sacrifices made by Pakistan ... in fighting extremism and terrorism," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It also cited Boucher as saying Washington was "committed to a long-term strategic relationship with Pakistan and (that) there existed a solid foundation for such a relationship."

Kasuri told Boucher his country was making "valuable contributions and immense sacrifices in fighting extremism and terrorism," the statement said.

Ultimatums a sore spot
However, the foreign minister expressed concern about recent legislation tying U.S. aid to Pakistan's progress at fighting terrorism.

Pakistan has deployed some 90,000 troops to its border regions with Afghanistan, where there has been a surge in attacks in recent weeks.

But U.S. officials have been pressing Pakistan to do more to stop militants from orchestrating attacks against U.S.-led international coalition forces in Afghanistan from its territory.

Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, is seeking another term as president in a vote expected later this year. The opposition says it will challenge Musharraf's presidential bid if he does not quit the military.

Musharraf's attempt in March to remove the country's independent-minded chief justice was met with widespread street protests, and was eventually struck down by the Supreme Court, which would rule on any legal challenge to Musharraf's re-election bid.

This week, hundreds of Afghan and Pakistani tribal elders and government officials concluded four days of discussions at a U.S.-backed tribal council, or jirga, aimed at countering militancy.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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