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Bush, Pakistan's Gilani Discuss Fighting Terrorism


U.S. President George Bush and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani say they are determined to continue fighting terrorism. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from Egypt where the two leaders met ahead of a world economic forum.

This was the president's first meeting with the new Pakistani prime minister, and the men vowed to continue cooperating in the fight against terrorism.

"The prime minister and I talked, of course, about our common desire to protect ourselves and others from those who would do harm. And I want to thank your steadfast support and your strength of character and your understanding of the problems we face," Mr. Bush said.

Pakistan is a crucial ally in that fight as U.S. intelligence officials say al-Qaeda terrorists have rebuilt much of their organization in Pakistan's tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Since taking power in elections that routed the parliamentary coalition backing Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Gilani's government has opened talks with tribal chiefs along the border in hopes of ending attacks inside the country.

The Bush administration has made clear its opposition to that move as Washington believes an earlier arrangement by President Musfarraf allowed al-Qaeda to regroup.

Neither leader publicly addressed those talks with tribal chiefs while speaking to reporters ahead of the world economic forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Prime Minister Gilani said his new government is determined to end the violence that last year claimed the life of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

"Our government is committed to fight terrorism and extremism; it is against the humanity, it's against the world, and I have lost my own great leader, Benazir Bhutto, because of terrorism," Mr. Gilani said. "Therefore I pledge and I stand by the world to fight against extremism and terrorism."

Prime Minister Gilani and President Bush also discussed the global food crisis. Mr. Bush said helping Afghanistan grow more of its own wheat will take some of the pressure off Pakistani agriculture.

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