INTERNATIONAL: Allies establish media centre in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: Britain and the US are setting up a media centre in

Pakistan in a bid to counter Taliban propaganda and anti-US


The 'war room' will be launched in Islamabad to supplement operations in

London and Washington.

It is hoped the three will offer a round-the-clock service,

accommodating broadcast deadlines around the world.

The time zone difference - Pakistan is three-and-a-half hours ahead of

London and eight-and-a-half hours ahead of Washington - often ensures

the Taliban's accounts of overnight bombings dominate each day's


US administration officials believe the combination of what they claim

are false reports by the Taliban and photographs showing slaughtered

Afghan civilians are fuelling anti-US feelings.

With the introduction of the war rooms, both the US and the UK hope they

can counter those reports - day and night - before they reach the


The Bush administration is also hoping to improve co-ordination between

its various message chiefs spread throughout Washington.

Each morning, the three centres will conduct a conference call involving

Downing Street communications director Alastair Campbell, who heads the

Whitehall-based London centre, and his US counterparts, Bush advisers

Karen Hughes and Karl Rove, alongside a number of US government PR


Plans are also in place to allow UK and US press officers to swap places

and improve the flow of information.

The US State Department is reportedly starting its own PR initiative

next week. Using the internet, it will translate and distribute

statements of support from Muslim leaders to US embassies around the

world and then distribute them to local reporters.

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