US Centcom chief visits Pakistan amid rift

By the Associated Press | September 24, 2011 | 3:00 AM EDT

Pakistani protesters shout slogans at an anti-American rally in Multan, Pakistan on Friday, Sept 23, 2011. Pakistan lashed out at the U.S. for accusing the country's most powerful intelligence agency of supporting extremist attacks against American targets in Afghanistan _ the most serious allegations against Islamabad since the beginning of the Afghan war. (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A top American military commander is in Pakistan for meetings with army leaders at a time of intense strain between the two countries.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, arrived late Friday and was scheduled to meet army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.

Ties between Islamabad and Washington are in crisis after American officials stepped up accusations that Pakistan's premier spy agency was aiding insurgents in neighboring Afghanistan, including those who took part in an attack on the U.S. Embassy last week in Kabul.

Kayani said on Friday that the charges were baseless, while other officials here have urged Washington to present evidence to back up such a serious allegation.