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Bush Expresses Solidarity With Pakistan


U.S. President George Bush has expressed solidarity with the people of Pakistan in a phone call with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. VOA White House correspondent Paula Wolfson reports Mr. Bush talked earlier to former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

The separate calls followed a new wave of suicide bombings in Pakistan, and came just days after Pervez Musharraf resigned.

The latest attacks occurred Thursday at the nation's main weapons complex, not far from Islamabad. Dozens of people were killed and with scores seriously injured the death toll is expected to rise.

The twin suicide bombings were among the deadliest attacks in the country in recent years, and Pakistani Taliban militants have claimed responsibility.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe says during the call to Prime Minister Gilani, President Bush expressed his condolences. Johndroe says he told the prime minister that the extremists behind these attacks pose a threat not just to Pakistan and the United States, but to the world.

"President Bush expressed to Prime Minister Gilani the United States' strong commitment to working with the prime minister and the government of Pakistan to address the ongoing battle against extremists and to assist Pakistan through its current economic situation," he said.

Speaking to reporters in Texas, near the president's ranch, Johndroe said Mr. Bush also briefed the Pakistani leader on his call earlier in the day to Pervez Musharraf.

"President Bush advised Prime Minister Gilani that he had just spoken this morning to former President Musharraf and that President Bush had wished President Musharraf well and thanked him for his efforts in the democratic transition of Pakistan as well as the fight against al-Qaida and extremist groups," added Johndroe.

Mr. Musharraf resigned on Monday to avoid impeachment. President Bush has often referred to him as a strong ally in the war on terror. But there have been concerns in Washington in recent months that Pakistan has not been doing enough to go after extremist and terrorist elements in the rough terrain near its border with Afghanistan.

These latest attacks may provide a clue as to the Gilani government's willingness to hit back at terrorists. A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban claims the suicide bombings were in retaliation for military operations in the border region.

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