NEW YORK: - The number of foreign militants entering Pakistan's tribal areas to join the Taliban-backed extremists in the region, has witnessed an rise, particularly since the new government launched negotiations with tribal leaders, The New York Times reported Thursday. Citing unnamed US intelligence and military sources, the newspaper that dozens or more Uzbeks, North Africans and Arabs from Gulf states have moved into Pakistan in recent months, shoring up the Al-Qaeda forces which are backing the Taliban insurgency in neighbouring Afghanistan. A US military spokesman in Baghdad told the Times that there has been a corresponding drop in the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq, now less than 40 a month compared to up to 110 a month one year ago. "The flow may reflect a change that is making Pakistan, not Iraq, the preferred destination for some Sunni extremists from the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia who are seeking to take up arms against the West," the Times wrote, citing the officials. General David McKiernan, the new NATO commander in Afghanistan, said the situation in Pakistan's northwestern border areas, where Al-Qaeda and other Islamic insurgents are based, has worsened. "The porous border has allowed insurgent militant groups a greater freedom of movement across that border, as well as a greater freedom to resupply, to allow leadership to sustain stronger sanctuaries, and to provide fighters across that border," McKiernan told the Times. A US defense official told the Times that the flow of foreign fighters into Pakistan has increased "from a trickle to a steady stream," especially after Pakistan's government cut back tribal area operations in March and launched talks with local leaders in hopes of halting militant activities.