WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a White House meeting this week with President Bush, Pakistan's president hopes to gain help to rejuvenate his country's economy and bolster his political standing with Pakistan's Islamic establishment.
Bush is expected to go at least part way toward meeting President Pervez Musharraf's request for debt relief to revive his country's ailing economy, a senior administration official said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Musharraf, who arrives Tuesday and meets with Bush on Wednesday, will not get everything he wants. Southern congressmen, out to protect the South-based U.S. clothing industry, bitterly oppose Pakistan's move to sell more textiles in the United States.
Also, top American diplomats have been carefully evenhanded on the issue of Kashmir, to nurture close ties with another key regional player, Pakistan's bitter rival, India.
Nevertheless, when Musharraf and Bush get together, the Pakistani will get, along with promises of debt relief, warm thanks from Bush for his decision to support the U.S.-led war on terror.
One irritant to U.S.-Pakistani relations was eased somewhat Tuesday when Pakistan announced that the chief suspect in the abduction of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl had been arrested in Lahore. But Pearl's whereabouts remains unknown.
Because of Musharraf's receptiveness to American overtures, the U.S.-Pakistani relationship has made a startling turnaround in a few short months.
U.S. officials are keenly aware that Musharraf's decision to align with the United States holds "inherent political risks" for him, "because of the militant Islamic and anti-American sentiments that exist within Pakistan," the director of the CIA, George Tenet, told Congress last week.
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