Afghan, Pakistani leaders vow to fighting terrorism

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf vowed Monday to increase cooperation in fighting against terrorist groups and to boost bilateral trade, Pakistan's state-run news agency reported.

The two leaders discussed a range of issues in the presence of their Cabinet ministers.

Musharraf and Karzai later told reporters they have a "common commitment to stamp out terrorism" and "strengthen capability and cooperation in the field of intelligence and the forces on ground."

Both nations are beset by suicide bombings and other attacks instigated by militants opposed to the two leaders for supporting the U.S.-led campaign against terrorist groups.

Pakistan has stepped up offensives along the frontier this year. The army announced Monday that Pakistani troops killed four foreigners and wounded several suspected terrorists at a hideout in a remote tribal region earlier in the day. It did not release any details on the suspects' identities or affiliations.

Musharraf said Pakistan is moving "very strongly against al-Qaida terrorists in the tribal area" bordering Afghanistan.

"We know that they are on the run, they are dispersed and displaced from a number of valleys which were their sanctuaries," he said.

Karzai, who was welcomed at the Islamabad airport by a 20-gun salute and flowers presented by two children, expressed gratitude for Pakistan's role in fighting militants and its help with reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

"We shall say to the future generation that Pakistan has helped us in the most critical times," Karzai said.

Karzai said peace in Afghanistan is in the interests of both countries.

"We will fight against terrorism together," he said.

Pakistan used to support the Taliban regime but switched sides after the Sept. 11 attacks, supporting Washington as a U.S.-led coalition of forces drove the hardline Islamic militia from power in late 2001.

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