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U.S., Pakistan Presidents Agree to Continue Fight Against Terrorism

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2003 – Calling him a "courageous leader and friend to the United States," President Bush thanked Pakistan President Perves Musharraf for assisting the United States in its war on terrorism.

During a brief press availability at Camp David, Md., Bush said that since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Pakistan has apprehended more than 500 al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists.

"Both the United States and Pakistan are threatened by global terror, and we're determined to defeat it," Bush said, citing Pakistan's support in the U.S. campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"Today both our countries are working with the Afghan government to build a stable, democratic Afghanistan with secure border regions that are free from terror and free from extremism," Bush said.

"We have cooperated closely in the global fight against terrorism, and we stand determined to rid the world of this menace," Musharraf said.

"We abhor terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. There is no cause that can be justified or promoted through terrorist acts, and Pakistan is moving against terrorism, in its own national interest," he added.

Bush cited terrorists like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed are no longer a threat to the United States or Pakistan. Mohammed was captured in a raid in Pakistan March 1 after being on the FBI's most-wanted list. He is believed to be a key aide to Osama bin Laden and an al Qaeda operative.

"Slowly but surely, we're dismantling the networks," Bush said. "And we'll continue on the hunt. It doesn't matter how long it takes. It could take a day, or it could take a month. It could take years.

Musharraf said that for the first time, Pakistani troops have entered an area known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, "where the government never entered for over a century," in search of al Qaeda operatives who are non- Afghan and non-Pakistani.

"It is the first time that the Pakistan army and our civil armed forces have entered this region, and we are in the process of opening up this region" Musharraf said. He added that his forces would be after "any al Qaeda operative" hiding in the region.

"We are fully inside the areas, which are treacherous areas," Musharraf said. "There is no doubt in my mind that the military with every passage of time will be able to locate any al Qaeda members hiding in this area."

Also during their meeting Bush said the two countries agreed on a multiyear economic and defense package.

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