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Bin Laden considered seeking deal with Pakistan, U.S. official says

By Carol Cratty, CNN
The revelation came as U.S. agents analyzed documents found in the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound.
The revelation came as U.S. agents analyzed documents found in the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound.
  • NEW: Pakistani ambassador to U.S. says Pakistan is "not aware" of any such idea
  • This came from documents seized in the raid on bin Laden's compound, a U.S. official says
  • There is no indication that Pakistani officials were approached, the official says
  • "This appeared to be a discussion inside al Qaeda," the official says

Washington (CNN) -- Osama bin Laden considered seeking a deal with Pakistan under which al Qaeda leaders in the country would be protected and, in return, al Qaeda would refrain from attacking Pakistan, a U.S. official told CNN Friday.

The revelation surfaced as American agents analyzed the documents that were seized in the May 2 raid of bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, according to the official, who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The documents show the al Qaeda leader communicated with his operations chief, Atiya Abdul Rahman, about a possible deal with Pakistan, the official said.

The New York Times first reported on the possible deal.

The official said there is no evidence an approach was ever made to any Pakistani officials to try to cut such a deal.

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"This appeared to be a discussion inside al Qaeda," the official said.

Husain Haqqani, Pakistani ambassador to the United States, told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux that Pakistan is "not aware" of any such idea.

"The question is, 'Did he raise it with anyone?' The U.S. government clearly says that he did not. It was something that he and his associates were considering amongst themselves, Haqqani said.

"So if we knew something about it, we would have done something about it long ago."

In the aftermath of the raid, U.S. officials have said that they suspect elements of the Pakistani government knew of bin Laden's hideaway in Abbottabad. But Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said recently that was just a "supposition."

The U.S. official would say Friday only that the Pakistanis are conducting their own investigation and that the United States "has no evidence Pakistan was aware he was living in Abbottabad."

But the official stressed agents are still going through the material that was seized and whether there are any "links to people inside Pakistan is still an open question."

The official said the documents also confirmed a point that U.S. agents were aware of: That bin Laden vetoed a proposal to change the leadership of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The documents say Rahman notified bin Laden that AQAP wanted to make Anwar al-Awlaki the leader of that group, the official said, but bin Laden did not go along.

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