Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department said Wednesday it is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of those responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

"We were outraged by the senseless murder of Daniel Pearl," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. "We've condemned it in the strongest terms. And today we're announcing a $5 million reward."

Boucher said the rewards offer would be advertised in Pakistan in the near future, and was also being posted on the State Department's web site.

A high-ranking Pakistani diplomat said Wednesday in Islamabad that Pakistan does not object to handing the chief suspect in Pearl's killing, who is in custody in Pakistan, over to the United States, but that certain legal issues must be resolved first.

Several other people are believed to be involved in the kidnapping and murder of Pearl, the South Asian bureau chief for the Journal, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.

The Pakistani officials have said they are still searching for at least four other key suspects in the Jan. 23 abduction of Pearl. Altogether, there are more than a dozen suspects in the Pearl case. The main target of a police manhunt is now Amjad Faruqi, who Pakistani police believe carried out Pearl's kidnapping.

Alleged mastermind and confessed kidnapper Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, 28, had been in custody for more than two weeks in Pakistan when a video showing Pearl's death was handed over to authorities last week.

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U.S. officials say they had requested Saeed's extradition two months before he was implicated in Pearl's slaying, in connection with another, previous kidnapping for which he had been secretly indicted in the United States.

The Pakistani diplomat, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said Pakistan is considering whether to first try suspect Saeed here before handing him over to the United States.

A Pakistani Interior Ministry official said Tuesday that Pakistan wants to hold on to Saeed for now - hoping he can help locate Pearl's body and identify his killers.

The videotape delivered Friday to U.S. authorities in Pakistan showed the 38-year-old journalist being forced to say he was Jewish, followed by graphic images of Pearl's unmoving body being decapitated.

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