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Officials: Pakistan intelligence chief heads to U.S. for day of talks

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: A U.S. official confirms Pakistani intelligence leader's visit
  • Tensions between the two countries continue to mount
  • Washington has accused Pakistani security forces of tipping off militants
  • Pakistan rejects allegations that the ISI has contacts with the Taliban

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the head of Pakistan's intelligence agency, left for Washington on Wednesday for a day of talks, two senior Pakistani security officials said.

A U.S. official confirmed that Pasha was scheduled to meet with U.S. officials in Washington. The official did not say with whom Pasha planned to meet.

The visit comes amid rising tensions between the United States and Pakistan, and days after the Obama administration announced it is withholding $800 million in aid to Islamabad.

Pakistan has protested the U.S.'s unilateral action in the May raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was found hiding in a compound in Abbottabad, a Pakistani military town. The United States did not tell Pakistan about the raid until it was over.

U.S. officials have questioned whether bin Laden had assistance from within the ranks of Pakistani intelligence.

Earlier this month, Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen stepped up U.S. rhetoric, becoming the first American official to publicly accuse Pakistan of sanctioning the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad, who was critical of the regime.

The Pakistani military and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) denied involvement in Shahzad's killing, and Pakistani Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan called Mullen's statement irresponsible.

The United States has also accused Pakistan's security forces of tipping off militants about upcoming raids -- a charge Pakistan denies.

In addition, Pakistan rejects allegations by American lawmakers that the ISI has contacts with the Taliban and the Haqqani network, another militant group that sometimes works with the Taliban. Officials in Afghanistan have blamed the Haqqani network for a deadly attack on a Kabul hotel last month.

CNN's Samson Desta contributed to this report