ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistani forces killed at least 30 militants near the Afghan border, as the region's provincial chief called for "peaceful dialogue" in a meeting with a U.S. State Department official.
The U.S. Embassy would not comment on U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher's meeting with North West Frontier Province Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti, other than to say his trip had been planned for some time and that he was meeting a range of government officials.
Boucher's trip comes amid strains between Islamabad and Washington over suspected American missile attacks targeting militants inside Pakistan. Washington wants Islamabad to do more to root out the Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters based inside Pakistan whom they blame for rising attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and other targets.
In a statement, Hoti said he told Boucher during the meeting in Peshawar that he wanted to "to resolve all political problems through peaceful dialogue, but there wouldn't be any compromise on maintaining the writ of the government."
Pakistani soldiers are battling militants on three fronts in the northwest of the country. In the past, the government has tried unsuccessfully to make peace deals with the insurgents, drawing criticism from the United States.
In the latest fighting, Pakistani fighter jets bombed a miliant camp and munition storage facility, killing at least 20 insurgents and causing extensive damage, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said.
In nearby Bajur district, seven more insurgents were killed when jets bombed their positions, said Muhammad Jamil Khan, the No. 2 government official there.
Security official Fazl Rabi said three militants were killed in other parts of Bajur when they tried to attack security posts.
It was not immediately possible to independently confirm the casualties. Reporters cannot visit the area because of poor security and government restrictions. No Taliban spokesman was available for comment.