The United States has again asked Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to end emergency rule and take off his army uniform even as Washington's defiant key ally publicly rejected its demand. A top US diplomat visiting Islamabad was expected to reiterate demands for a return to constitutional rule, a state department official has said, though he still could not say for sure whether Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte will see Musharraf in person. But spokesman Sean McCormack would not agree if this implied that Musharraf doesn't want to meet the US envoy. "I'm just anticipating that President Musharraf would meet with him, but I'm not going to be so rude as to announce any meetings on behalf of President Musharraf." Nor did he know if Negroponte, a former US intelligence chief, will meet former premier Benazir Bhutto, who has taken an increasingly strident stand against Musharraf signalling the end of an uneasy deal brokered by Washington between the two. Asked if US would ever sign off on elections even if Musharraf kept emergency rule, McCormack said: "It's not for us necessarily to sign off on elections. First and foremost, they have to reflect the will of the Pakistani people." "I know President Musharraf has talked about the fact that he thought it was important to have the state of emergency in order to have free and fair elections.
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