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Kerry skips Pakistan to avoid poll campaign

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US Secretary of State John Kerry scrapped a planned visit to Pakistan to avoid accusations of meddling in the upcoming elections, US officials said on Monday.

Kerry, who landed in neighbouring Kabul after a trip to the Middle East, dropped Islamabad from his itinerary as Pakistan prepares for elections on May 11 that will mark the country's first democratic transition of power.

"Originally Secretary Kerry was hopeful he would be able to go to Pakistan on this trip as well," a US official told reporters travelling with Kerry.

"But as the government there enters a very historic period on this electoral process we wanted to fully respect those institutions and the ongoing process."

The US is a major donor to Pakistan and there is deep suspicion among many Pakistanis over US involvement in the country.

There is also fierce public anger over US drone strikes targeting militants near the border with Afghanistan.

The official said Kerry had met Pakistan's powerful army chief Ashfaq Kayani in Jordan on Sunday evening and would visit Islamabad in the near future.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130325/kerry-skips-pakistan-avoid-poll-campaign