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Pakistan President, US Military Commander Discuss Anti-Terror Fight


A senior U.S. military commander met with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf Wednesday to discuss the war against terrorism. The meeting comes amid escalating tensions between Pakistan and neighbor Afghanistan over regional anti-terror operations.

The U.S. military's Central Command, CENTCOM, oversees operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, key battlegrounds in the U.S.-led war on terror.

On Tuesday, the head of the command, General John Abizaid, arrived in Pakistan, another front-line state in the terrorism war, and on Wednesday, he met President Pervez Musharraf outside the Pakistani capital.

Neither camp has said much about their discussion. But presidential spokesman General Shaukat Sultan did confirm that the agenda included the growing friction between Pakistan and Afghanistan - again, on the subject of combating terrorism.

"The situation on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan was discussed. Pakistan's point of view was conveyed," general Sultan says.

In a written statement, the Pakistani government said Mr. Musharraf stressed to General Abizaid the need for greater coordination and sharing of intelligence in real time with Afghanistan.

In the last few weeks Pakistan and Afghanistan have exchanged increasingly barbed accusations over border security.

Afghan officials claim militants of the country's former Taleban regime have crossed the border and set up training camps inside Pakistan's remote tribal areas.

Last month Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave Pakistan a list of some 40 Taleban and al-Qaida suspects his government believes are hiding in Pakistan.

Islamabad subsequently described the intelligence as worthless. Earlier this week, Mr. Musharraf accused Afghan officials of intentionally trying to undermine Pakistan's anti-terror operations. In an interview with CNN, he accused Mr. Karzai of being out of touch with events in his own country.

Security Analyst Samina Ahmed is the International Crisis Group's regional supervisor based in Pakistan.

"This is a fairly serious confrontation. It's gone beyond the tension and the rhetoric [and] now it seems neither side is willing to calm down," Ahmed said.

Still, she says, both countries remain key U.S. allies in the war on terror, and Washington still needs their cooperation to win that war.

"There's a lot at stake here, and above all, what's at stake is U.S. lives, so you can imagine what the CENTCOM chief is up against," Ahmed said.

Abizaid was scheduled to leave Pakistan Wednesday.

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