Bush sees Pak­istan as re­li­able ally against al Qaeda

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Joseph Curl

THUR­MONT, Md. — Pres­i­dent Bush on Aug. 6 said the United States and Pak­istan, if armed with “ac­tion­able intelligence,” could take out al Qaeda lead­ers, but he did not say whether he would ask per­mis­sion from the Pak­istani pres­i­dent be­fore send­ing U.S. troops into that na­tion.

The pres­i­dent also warned Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai, who was his week­end guest at the Camp David pres­i­den­tial re­treat, not to trust neigh­bor­ing Iran, call­ing that na­tion’s lead­er­ship a “big dis­ap­point­ment” and vow­ing to in­ten­sify U.S. ef­forts to iso­late Tehran.

While Mr. Bush hails Pak­istani Pres­i­dent Pervez Mushar­raf as a trusted ally against ter­ror­ism, Pak­istan has ob­jected to the United States tak­ing any uni­lat­eral ac­tion within its borders. Osama bin Laden, the mas­ter­mind of the Septem­ber 11, 2001, at­tacks, is thought to be holed up in the moun­tain­ous border re­gion be­tween Afghanistan and Pak­istan, pro­tected by tribal groups.

Asked di­rectly if he would “wait for Mushar­raf’s per­mis­sion” be­fore send­ing troops in, Mr. Bush said: “I am con­fi­dent that with ac­tion­able intelligence, we will be able to bring top al Qaeda to jus­tice. We’re in con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the Pak­istan gov­ern­ment. It’s in their in­ter­est that for­eign fight­ers be brought to jus­tice.

“Af­ter all, th­ese are the same ones who were plot­ting to kill Pres­i­dent Mushar­raf.”

While Mr. Karzai said noth­ing about Iran on Aug. 6 dur­ing a brief press con­fer­ence on the Camp David he­li­pad, the Afghan leader said Aug. 5 that “so far, Iran has been a helper and a so­lu­tion.”

“Iran has been a sup­porter of Afghanistan in the peace process that we have and the fight against ter­ror, and the fight against nar­cotics in Afghanistan,” he said on CNN. “It then has con­trib­uted steadily to Afghanistan. [. . . ] We will con­tinue to have good re­la­tions with Iran.”

But Mr. Bush said Tehran, which has sought to ex­pand its nu­clear weapons pro­gram, has not proven it­self to be a “force for good.”

“It’s up to Iran to prove to the world that they’re a sta­bi­liz­ing force, as op­posed to a desta­bi­liz­ing force,” he said. “I must tell you that this cur­rent lead­er­ship there is a big dis­ap­point­ment to the peo­ple of Iran. The peo­ple of Iran could be do­ing a lot bet­ter than they are to­day. But be­cause of the ac­tions of this gov­ern­ment, this coun­try is iso­lated. And we will con­tinue to work to iso­late it.”

The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion has charged that Iran has been sup­port­ing mil­i­tants in Iraq and ques­tions whether it was send­ing weapons across the border to Afghanistan. William Wood, the U.S. am­bas­sador in Afghanistan, said in June that “there is no ques­tion” Ira­nian weapons have been flood­ing into the coun­try.

Mean­while in Bagh­dad, U.S. and Ira­nian am­bas­sadors to Iraq met on Aug. 6 for their third round of se­cu­rity talks in just over two months. U.S. Am­bas­sador Ryan C. Crocker met with his coun­ter­part, Has­san Kazemi Qomi, for about two hours af­ter U.S., Iraqi and Ira­nian ex­perts held their first talks as part of a se­cu­rity sub­com­mit­tee. No de­tails were re­leased.

At Camp David, Mr. Bush and Mr. Karzai agreed that more has to be done to stem the flow of heroin out of Afghanistan, to re­duce civil­ian ca­su­al­ties and to keep down the Tal­iban. But each praised ef­forts by the other to push democ­racy along in Afghanistan.

“There is still work to be done, don’t get me wrong,” Mr. Bush said. “But progress is be­ing made, Mr. Pres­i­dent, and we’re proud of you.” He noted that along with 23,500 U.S. troops, there are 26,000 troops from other na­tions and there are now 110,000 Afghans de­fend­ing their na­tion.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Pres­i­dent Bush walks to­wards the Oval Of­fice af­ter he re­turned to the White House from Camp David Aug. 7 af­ter host­ing Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai for a two-day meet­ing.

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