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Powell, Musharraf Reaffirm Ties, Support for War on Terror - 2001-10-16

Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, has reaffirmed his support for the war on terrorism and Secretary of State Colin Powell has reaffirmed Washington's commitment to expand bilateral cooperation with Pakistan, including debt relief and trade ties.

Secretary Powell says the military campaign against terrorist targets inside Afghanistan will continue as long as needed to achieve its goals. "We have no desire to extend the campaign beyond the achievement of its goals," he says. "The president said the campaign has to be as long as is necessary to achieve the military goal."

President Musharraf says Pakistan supports the campaign, but wants it to end as soon as possible. He also wants to see efforts speeded up to forge a multi-ethnic government in Kabul.

"The political process needs to be placed on a fast track in order to forestall the possibility of a political vacuum," he says. The political process "should not lag behind the fast moving events in the military field."

General Musharraf agrees with Washington's view that any future government in Kabul must be broad-based without outside interference.

In return for Pakistan's help in the war against terrorism, Secretary Powell says the United States wants to expand its cooperation with Pakistan in all areas in, what he calls, the start of a strengthened relationship.

Another aim of Mr. Powell's visit to Pakistan and India is easing tensions over Kashmir. He says Washington is ready to help both countries peacefully resolve their festering dispute.

India has accused Pakistan of supporting terrorist groups in Kashmir, a charge Pakistan denies.

As Secretary Powell arrived Monday in Islamabad, Indian forces fired artillery at Pakistani forces along the line of control in Kashmir.

Mr. Powell urges restraint on both sides. "Mutual respect for each other, a desire to accommodate the aspirations of the Kashmiri people, and respect for avoiding confrontation and understanding that provocation is to be avoided, and above all, the beginning of a dialogue between the two sides is the most important thing that is needed now," he says.

Secretary Powell says he will deliver the same message when he meets later in New Delhi with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.