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Bush Praises Musharraf For Bold Support - 2001-09-20


President Bush is praising Pakistan's leader, General Pervez Musharraf, for taking what Mr. Bush called a "bold position" in the fight against terrorism.

Mr. Bush made the comments in Washington late Wednesday, after General Musharraf addressed the Pakistani people, explaining his decision to join the hunt for alleged terrorist Osama bin Laden.

The general said the United States has asked Islamabad to exchange intelligence information on terrorism, provide logistical support and access to Pakistani airspace.

General Musharraf said the U-S fight against terrorism is not directed against the people of Afghanistan or Islam, adding that Washington is after Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network. He also said he believes Afghanistan's Taleban leaders have now also become a target for refusing to hand over the Saudi exile.

Pakistan is one of only three countries that recognize the Taleban government of Afghanistan. The other two -- Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- say they now are reviewing relations with the Taleban.

General Musharraf said refusing to join global efforts to end terrorism would put Pakistan's survival at risk. He said he remains a strong supporter of the Taleban, but Pakistan's interests come first.

Pakistan's Islamic groups are condemning the government's decision to help the United States in possible military action against Osama bin Laden and the Taleban. An umbrella group of 35 Pakistani Islamic organizations says its members will have to obey any Taleban order for a jihad or religious war against the United States, if Washington moves against Afghanistan.

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