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Bush rules out N-deal with Pakistan
K J M Varma

Islamabad, March 4
In a blunt rejection of Pakistan's demand for a civilian nuclear deal on the lines he clinched with India, US President George W Bush today said the two countries had different needs and different histories.

After discussions with President Pervez Musharraf here, the US leader was asked by reporters whether Washington would have with energy-deficient Pakistan, a nuclear deal similar to the one he had reached with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi two days ago.

With Musharraf standing by his side, Bush stated in unambiguous terms that "Pakistan and India are different countries with different needs and different histories".

The US President's reference to "different histories" was an obvious reference to the track record of India and Pakistan in the nuclear field. Washington has maintained that India is a responsible nuclear power in contrast to Pakistan's clandestine help in this sphere to some countries highlighted by the actions of its top scientist A.Q. Khan, now under house arrest.

On Musharraf seeking US involvement in facilitating the resolution of Kashmir and other issues, Bush refused to be drawn into it, saying the "best way" for doing so was for leaders of the two countries to "step up and lead".

He made it clear that the role of US was to continue encouraging the parties concerned to come together to resolve the contentious issue.

Condemning Thursday's suicide attack in Karachi in which an American diplomat was killed, Bush said "we have to fight the war on terror together".

Addressing the joint press conference, Musharraf said, "I referred to Kashmir and requested him to remain involved for facilitating resolution of all issues including Kashmir to bring peace in the region".

Musharraf said Pakistan and the US had decided to institutionalise their strategic relationship. The US-Pakistan strategic dialogue would include defence relations, cooperation in the fight against terrorism and resolution of all disputes in the region including Kashmir, he said.

With Bush firmly ruling out extension of the civilian nuclear deal which US had reached with India, however, he said Washington had no problem with the India-Pakistan-Iran (IPI) gas pipeline. The problem US had was with Iran's plans to build nuclear weapons, which he said was "dangerous for all."

"Pakistan has got energy needs to meet the growing economy. He (Musharraf) explained the natural gas situation in the country. We understand you need to get natural gas, that is fine," he said.

Bush said US Secretary of Energy Sam Barmier would visit Pakistan separately to discuss Pakistan's needs in this regard. It is expected that Barmier would look for assisting Pakistan in exploring natural gas resources within Pakistan.

In his opening remarks, Musharraf expressed his gratitude to Bush for his efforts towards resolution of disputes in the South Asian region and to bring peace, with special reference to the resolution of Kashmir issue.

In response, Bush lauded Musharraf's commitment to fight terrorism and prodded him to do more. "Most important of them all is to defeat these terrorists, some of them turned Pakistan and some them tried to kill your President and close cooperation is needed to defeat," he said.

"While we do have a lot of work to be done, we need to stay on the hunt. One of my mission today was to determine whether the President was as committed as he has been to bring the terrorists to justice and he is.

"He understands his stakes, he understands the responsibility and need for a strategy to defeat the enemy," Bush said referring to the need to step up the crackdown against al Qaeda and Taliban militants.

To a question that Pakistan under Musharraf was not moving quickly, Bush said he spent a lot of time discussing democracy with the Pakistani President.

"I believe democracy is Pakistan's future. There should be elections in 2007 and I discussed with the President and he made it clear that he will hold elections in 2007.

Replying to a question, Musharraf said he would constitutionally address the issue of his continuation as Chief of Army which has been questioned by political parties.

He claimed that he has introduced sustainable democracy in Pakistan for the first time by allowing free press and rights to women and minorities and admitted that his uniform was an issue and he would constitutionally address it by 2007.

"Yes that (uniform) is an issue which needs to be addressed and I will follow constitutional norms, where I have been allowed to wear the uniform till 2007, being in uniform and President of Pakistan. Beyond 2007 this issue has to be addressed according to the constitution of Pakistan and I will never violate the constitution of Pakistan. PTI
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