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.


Senior Congress leaders from Kerala maintained that it was for the congress high command to take a decision on the return of NCP leader K. Karunakaran to Congress.
Talking to reporters after attending the district Congress leadership meet here, Defence Minister and CWC member A.K. Antony said he did not wish to make the issue of Karunakaran's return to Congress a point for discussion in the state. Antony said he would air his opinion on the matter before the high command if it was sought.
Union Minister for Non-Resident Affairs, Vlayalar Ravi said no discussion on this issue had taken place in the state unit of the party. "I will give my view on the issue if such a discussion takes place in the party", he said on the side lines of the party leadership meet.

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