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Musharraf Pledges to Hold Free Elections, Honor Results of Next Month's Vote


Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has opened a four-nation tour of Europe, pledging that his country's legislative elections next month will be free and fair.

Speaking with reporters Monday in Brussels before meeting with senior European and NATO officials, Mr. Musharraf said he would honor the results of the vote. He also said that despite recent turmoil, his country was still on course toward democracy.

Mr. Musharraf has said that one of the purposes of his trip is to improve Pakistan's image, and remove misperceptions about recent events in his country, such as the temporary state of emergency he imposed last year.

The Pakistani president will meet today with Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, European Union officials, including foreign-policy chief Javier Solana, and NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

Mr. Musharraf's schedule for the week also takes him to France and Britain, and to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Analysts say he can expect to be challenged over his government's handling of security issues, and last month's assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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