Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Pakistani president wants Afghanistan peaceful and stable

REFUGEE BLAST The president confirmed his resolve in tackling any extremism and terrorism, while two died in a bomb blast at a refugee camp

AGENCIES , LAHORE AND PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN

Pakistan needs peace and stability in Afghanistan, the president told US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who met him after a visit to Kabul, the government said in a statement yesterday.

President General Pervez Musharraf made his comments at a meeting with Clinton, who called on him along with Senator Evan Bayh and Congressman John McHugh in the eastern city of Lahore late on Sunday.

Pakistan is a key ally of the US in its war on terror.

The visit by Clinton -- the wife of a former US president who is considering a run for the job -- came weeks after Musharraf's government announced a plan to plant land mines and build a fence along parts of its frontier with Afghanistan to stop Taliban and al-Qaeda guerrillas from crossing over.

The Afghan government has opposed the plan, saying it would separate families instead of preventing cross-border terrorism.

At the meeting with Clinton, Musharraf said a "peaceful and stable Afghanistan was in Pakistan's vital interest," according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

It said Musharraf asserted that security along the shared border was a joint responsibility and that both sides should make an effort to ensure stability in the region.

Musharraf also "underlined the importance of the strategic relationship between Pakistan and the United States and expressed satisfaction at the deepening of cooperation in diverse fields," it said.

According to the statement, Musharraf also "affirmed Pakistan's firm resolve to fight extremism and terrorism," and in this context, he "highlighted the holistic approach being followed by Pakistan."

Pakistan was once a main ally of the Taliban. But it switched sides after a US-led coalition force invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the US.

Since then, Pakistan has deployed about 80,000 troops in tribal areas near Afghanistan to flush out foreign militants and their local supporters.

Meanwhile at least two people were killed in a bomb blast at an Afghan refugee camp in northwest Pakistan, police said yesterday.

The explosion occurred late on Sunday at a house in the Jalozai Afghan camp, 45km east of Peshawar, local police chief Muhammad Tahir said.

"So far we can confirm that two people were killed in the blast," Tahir said, but gave no further details.

A report on the GEO television station however said the blast killed four people and destroyed the house of the leader of the camp, Maulvi Masoodullah, as he was receiving three guests from eastern Afghanistan.

Masoodullah, who had been wounded in the blast, told the television station his 25-year-old brother and three guests had been killed in the blast, but police did not confirm this.

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