, KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A top U.S. envoy praised Pakistan on Sunday for raids its military has made against suspected terrorist training camps in mountainous regions that border Afghanistan.
Pakistan's army on Thursday swooped down on a suspected al-Qaida mountain hideout in the country's northwest in its largest-ever offensive against Osama bin Laden's network. Eight suspected terrorists were killed and 18 others captured. Two Pakistani soldiers also died in the battle.
Two days later, Pakistani soldiers backed by helicopters raided another suspected terrorist training camp, but no arrests were made.
“In recent days there have been some rather significant activities that the Pakistani forces have taken against the Taliban and al-Qaida and I think this is a very good omen and I have no doubt it will continue,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told reporters in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
Armitage and Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca are in Afghanistan to discuss the U.S.-led hunt for al-Qaida and Taliban militants and increasing rebel violence against coalition forces.
Sunday's daylong visit comes a week after a U.S. soldier was killed and two others were wounded in a clash with suspected Taliban insurgents.
The envoys were to meet President Hamid Karzai and other officials in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to discuss cooperation in the war on terror, according to a U.S. State Department spokesman.
Armitage arrived in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, late Saturday. Rocca arrived Sunday. Both then flew from Islamabad to Kandahar and met local officials, before heading to Kabul.
Taliban rebels have dramatically stepped up operations in recent months. In addition to attacks against U.S. forces, they have also increasingly targeted Afghan government officials and international aid workers, who have been forced to suspend reconstruction projects in several parts of the country.
Thirty-six U.S. troops have been killed in action in Afghanistan, in addition to at least 164 who have been wounded, since a U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban from power nearly two years ago.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Kabul said the two diplomats would also discuss progress made in rebuilding Afghanistan's infrastructure and work being done on a new constitution, a draft of which is expected to be released in the next week.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry has said that formal talks between the U.S. envoys and Pakistan will be held on Monday after their visit to Afghanistan.
The meetings with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and his officials will cover range of issues, including war on terror, the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan-India relations, the ministry said.