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Bush Confident Pakistan Will Target Al-Qaida

U.S. President George Bush says he is confident that Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf has both the desire and the ability to hunt down al-Qaida terrorists along the border with Afghanistan. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush says he is confident that Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officials will come up with a plan to bring top al-Qaida terrorists to justice.

He says he and President Musharraf share a common enemy in Islamic militants.

"I have made it clear to him that I expect there to be full cooperation in sharing intelligence, and I believe we have got good intelligence sharing. I have indicated to him that the American people would expect there to be swift action taken if there is actionable intelligence on high-value targets in his country," Mr. Bush said.

President Musharraf is a crucial ally in the fight against al-Qaida and has come under increasing U.S. pressure to do more to crackdown on terrorists following an American threat assessment that concludes al-Qaida has rebuilt much of its operational capacity in remote areas of Pakistan near the Afghan border.

There is also mounting domestic pressure on Mr. Musharraf following his failed attempt to sack the country's chief justice and an army raid on a mosque that left more than 100 people dead.

President Musharraf's decision Wednesday to pull out of a meeting with more than 600 Pakistani and Afghan tribal leaders prompted speculation that he was considering a state of emergency which could delay upcoming elections.

Pakistani Information Minister Mohammed Ali Durrani says President Musharraf has decided against imposing emergency rule.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, President Bush said he continues to encourage the Pakistani leader to hold free elections.

"My focus in terms of the domestic scene there is that he have a free and fair election, and that is what we have been talking to him about, and I am hopeful they will," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned President Musharraf Wednesday following reports of a possible state of emergency. American officials would not discuss the details of that conversation.