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U.S. warns Pakistan after NY bomb attempt: report

An Arabic language newspaper, displaying a photograph of Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, is seen outside a grocery store on Coney Island Avenue in the Brooklyn borough of New York May 6, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States has warned Pakistan it wants urgent action against Islamic militants in its tribal regions following last week’s failed Times Square car bombing in New York, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing U.S. and Pakistani officials, the Times reported on its website that General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, met Pakistani military chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Friday and urged that Pakistan hasten the start of a military offensive against the Taliban and al Qaeda in North Waziristan.

Officials with knowledge of the visit who spoke on the condition of anonymity characterized Washington’s ramped up pressure as a sharp turnaround from the Obama administration’s relatively restrained approach of encouragement in recent months, the Times reported.

Faisal Shahzad, 30, a naturalized American citizen born in Pakistan, was arrested on Monday, two days after authorities say he parked a crude car bomb in New York’s busy Times Square.

In Islamabad, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday Pakistani investigators were trying to verify information provided by the United States about Shahzad.

A U.S. official was quoted by the Times as saying Kayani was told, “You can’t pretend any longer that this is not going on,’” the newspaper quoted one U.S. official as saying. “We are saying you have got to go into North Waziristan.’”

Another official, referring to the highly sensitive prospect of U.S. ground troops within Pakistan, was quoted as saying, “We are saying, ‘Sorry, if there is a successful attack, we will have to act’” inside Pakistan.

The report noted that U.S. attempts to increase the presence of U.S. Special Operations forces there, even in advisory or training roles, have faced firm resistance.

According to a Pakistani official, U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari after last week’s failed bombing and used “forceful” language to convey that Pakistan must move more assertively against militants threaded through society, the Times said.

Writing by Chris Michaud; Editing by Will Dunham