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Britain Pledges $1 Billion to Stabilize Pakistan


Britain has pledged $1 billion in aid to Pakistan to help stabilize its violent border regions and to address the underlying causes of extremism.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown confirmed the pledge Friday during a meeting in London with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Mr. Brown's office said the prime minister offered support for Pakistan's intensified military battle against the Taliban.

A spokesman for Mr. Zardari, Farhatullah Babar, emphasized that Pakistan needs more help in building its security forces. He also called for better access to European Union markets to help boost Pakistan's economy.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack near the Afghan border Thursday that killed 22 policemen. The group said the suicide bombing was the first act of retaliation for the death of their leader Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a U.S. drone (pilotless aircraft) strike earlier this month.

Also, al-Qaida's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, called on Pakistanis to support the militants.

In a video released on jihadist Web sites Thursday, Zawahiri accused Pakistan's government of colluding with the American government in a crusade against Islam.

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

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