Officials hold security briefing with government over tour March 6, 2008

Cricket Australia close to decision on Pakistan

Cricinfo staff

A decision on whether Australia takes the unlikely step of touring Pakistan could be made as early as next week following a meeting with government officials in Canberra on Wednesday. Representatives from Cricket Australia, the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade held talks on the security situation in the country, which was hit by bomb blasts in Lahore on Tuesday.

"It was a comprehensive briefing that adds greatly to the knowledge we and the ACA hold," the Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young told the Age. "It is likely we will be forming a view on this within the next week."

Australia's players are not keen on the trip and the ACA will not send a representative on any pre-tour visit for the series, which has already been shortened following safety fears after the election on February 18. The Age reported the cricket officials were told the situation had not changed dramatically since the polling day.

An independent security report needs to be made before Australia can choose whether to cancel the abbreviated trip, which is scheduled for March 29 to April 27, and the Pakistan Cricket Board is believed to be softening its stance on switching the contest to a neutral venue. The Australian reported the Australian consulates in Karachi and Lahore, which are cities on the series itinerary, have been closed.

Australia's foreign affairs advice for Pakistan says: "We strongly advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Pakistan at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack, sectarian violence and the unpredictable security situation. If you do decide to travel to Pakistan, you should exercise extreme caution. If you are in Pakistan and concerned for your safety, you should consider leaving if it is safe to do so."