Islamabad: The US has signalled that the issue of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed will be taken up by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairperson Dianne  Feinstein during her meetings with Pakistani interlocutors this week.

Fienstein, scheduled to arrive in Islamabad late Tuesday night, is expected to meet Pakistan's top civil and militaryleadership, including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, during the visit.

US intentions to raise the issue of Saeed, for whom the Department of State offered a USD 10 million bounty last month, were conveyed to the Pakistani side during meetings held to prepare for Feinstein's visit, diplomatic sources informed.

The issue of Saeed was given as much importance as US concerns about the Haqqani network, a militant faction based in North Waziristan that is blamed for attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan, and other aspects of counter-terrorism cooperation, the sources said.

Pakistan reacted to the US offer of a bounty for Saeed under the Rewards for Justice programme by asking American authorities to provide "concrete evidence" against the Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief, saying this was necessary to proceed legally against him.

Islamabad has so far refused to take action against Saeed on the basis of material provided by New Delhi about his alleged role in masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

Though the LeT was banned by the regime of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistan government has not formally outlawed the JuD.

The JuD also carries out its activities through the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, which was created in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

The US has also offered a two million dollar bounty for Saeed's deputy, Abdul Rahman Makki, who is described on the Rewards for Justice website as the "second in command" of the LeT.

In recent months, Saeed has played a key role in cobbling together the Defa-e-Pakistan Council, a conglomerate of over 40 hardline and extremist groups that has organised massive rallies against the US and India across Pakistan.

Feinstein's visit is being seen as a follow-up to a trip to Islamabad by Special envoy Marc Grossman, who was unable to break an impasse in Pakistan-US ties, largely due to
Islamabad’s insistence on an apology from Washington for a cross-border NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

Pakistan has also demanded an end to drones attacks to put bilateral ties back on an even keel. Pakistan's Ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman, who arrived here last week for the talks with Grossman, has been asked to stay on in to assist in the parleys with Feinstein.

(Agencies)