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Musharraf Hopes Deal With Tribal Leaders Will Be Successful


Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf is defending a recently-struck deal that critics say provides sanctuary to terrorists. He also voiced support for President Bush's handling on the war in Iraq, and urged the United States not to pull out immediately.

About one month ago, Pakistan and pro-Taleban militants in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan reached a much-criticized peace agreement. Under the deal, Pakistani troops would leave the North Waziristan area, while tribal chiefs would be responsible for curbing terrorist attacks.

On Sunday, President Musharraf said his country has not withdrawn the military from the tribal border regions.

"Not one soldier has been moved out. There is not one battalion, one soldier that has been relocated. What is anyone talking of? The military is there," he said.

At the same time, he told the NBC television program Meet the Press, the deal his government struck includes one point that he says is not negotiable.

"No al Qaida activity, no Taleban activity, on our side or across the border," said Mr. Musherref. "And we signed this, and they agreed to this. Now, what is the problem?"

The Afghan government has repeatedly said the Taleban has used the Pakistani border area as a base for attacks.

On Sunday, Mr. Musharraf urged Afghanistan to stop criticizing Pakistan and come up with what he called a "counter strategy" to deal with the problem.

President Bush hosted Mr. Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House last week, for a three-way meeting.

During his time in the United States, the Pakistani leader also has been busy promoting his new book, a memoir called In the Line of Fire.

One of the revelations in it is his belief that the war in Iraq has made the world a more dangerous place. He was asked if he raised these concerns with President Bush, who maintains that U.S. actions there have made the world a safer place.

"When we discuss, we have not discussed it in such detail," he said. "And I look more - instead of talking about what it has become, we are talking about what is the present and what is the solution to the problem."

Although he never favored the invasion of Iraq, he glossed over this disagreement by saying "whatever has happened has happened." The Pakistani President urged the United States not to pull out of Iraq until the country has been stabilized, and added that a precipitous withdrawal could have a chaotic effect on the region.

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