- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2009

LONDON (Agence France-Presse) | Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday the latest attack by militants in Pakistan shows an “increasing” threat to the state, but voiced confidence Islamabad was in control of its nuclear arsenal.

Mrs. Clinton told reporters in London that the militants’ brazen bid to storm the Pakistani military headquarters in Rawalpindi on Saturday highlighted the scale of the threat.

The attack brought renewed U.S. focus on Pakistan, which has won praise from Washington for its new crackdown on militants, just as the Obama administration tries to revise its strategy in neighboring Afghanistan.

“Yesterday was another reminder that extremists … are increasingly threatening the authority of the state,” Mrs. Clinton said at a press conference with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

“But we see no evidence that they [the militants] are going to take over the state,” the chief U.S. diplomat said following about 90 minutes of talks that dealt extensively with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Congress has just approved $7.5 billion in economic and military aid for Pakistan, which earned U.S. plaudits in recent months for its military offensive against the Taliban in the Swat Valley.

Analysts said Saturday’s attack and subsequent siege were deeply embarrassing for the military and showed that the Islamist militant threat to the nuclear-armed nation was far from quashed, despite Pakistan’s claims it is winning the fight.

The strike at the heart of the military establishment left at least 19 people dead. Pakistani troops stormed the complex on Sunday, ending the daylong siege and freeing 39 people held by the militants.

It was the third dramatic attack by militants in less than a week. A suicide car bomb on Friday killed 52 civilians at a busy market in the northwest city of Peshawar, and an attack on a U.N. office in Islamabad last Monday left five aid workers dead.

In London on a European tour that will take her to Russia, Mrs. Clinton also warned Iran over its nuclear program, saying the international community “will not wait indefinitely” for the Islamic republic to meet its obligations.

Global powers were outraged after Iran, just days ahead of talks in Geneva on Oct. 1, revealed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it was building a second uranium-enrichment plant near Qom.

Mrs. Clinton said the six-nation talks in the Swiss city on Oct. 1 were a “constructive beginning,” but she said they “must be followed by action.”

“Words are not enough,” she added. “We are speaking with a single voice and delivering a clear message to Iran: The international community will not wait indefinitely for evidence that Iran is prepared to live up to its international obligations.”

Western powers suspect Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at making atomic weapons, a charge denied by Tehran.

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