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Musharraf: Pakistan Wants Peaceful Relations With - 2002-02-08


Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says his country is "extremely interested" in peaceful and stable relations with its neighbor, Afghanistan.

General Musharraf made the comment to reporters (Friday) as Afghan interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai began a two-day visit to Islamabad. The Pakistani president gave assurances that Pakistan fully supports Afghanistan, and vowed that Islamabad will not interfere in its neighbor's affairs.

Pakistan was a strong backer of Afghanistan's ousted Taleban rulers.

The Pakistani government abandoned its support for the Taleban after the September 11th attacks in the United States, for which U-S officials blame Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network, which had numerous training camps across Afghanistan. Mr. Karzai said Afghans have goodwill for Pakistan, which he says helped Afghanistan end the decade-long Soviet occupation, from 1979 to 1989. The Afghan leader also said foreign troops will remain in Afghanistan as long as necessary to root out remaining Taleban and al-Qaida fighters.

Mr. Karzai also addressed the issue of the fate of several thousand Pakistanis still being held prisoner in Afghanistan after they were captured fighting for the Taleban. He said these prisoners still must be screened before any decision is made on their fate.

This is the Afghan leader's first visit to Pakistan since his interim administration took office in December. Mr. Karzai lived in exile in Pakistan for several years while the Taleban ruled Afghanistan.

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