The United States was hoping yesterday to question the detained three wives of Osama bin Laden although Pakistani officials played down the possibility of any speedy access, saying no decision had been made.

U.S. investigators, who have been sifting through a huge stash of material seized on May 2 after U.S. special forces killed bin Laden in his Pakistani hideout, want to question his wives as they seek to trace his movements and his network.

A Pakistani decision to allow U.S. investigators to question the women could begin to stabilize relations between the allies that have been severely strained by the killing of the al Qaeda leader.

A U.S. official said Monday Pakistan appeared ready to grant access to the wives who were detained by Pakistani authorities at bin Laden’s compound after the raid.

But Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said it had received no U.S. request while other officials said no decision had been taken.

“It’s too early to even think about it,” said a senior government official, adding that Pakistani investigators had yet to finish their own questioning.

Bin Laden was shot dead in a top-secret raid in the town of Abbottabad to the embarrassment of Pakistan which has for years denied the world’s most-wanted man was on its soil.