Rice, Hadley visit Pak Embassy to condole Bhutto

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Washington, Dec 29: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice paid a visit to Pakistani Embassy here to sign a condolence book on the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benzair Bhutto and described her as a champion of democracy.

White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley also visited Pakistani Embassy yesterday. On Thursday, Ms Rice made telephone calls to Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari and to Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the second-ranking official in Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party(PPP). Later, on being asked as to what did she write in the condolence book, Ms Rice said,''Let me just say that I wanted to come to express personally, and also on behalf, of course, of the American people, our deep sympathies with the Bhutto family, with her supporters and, of course, with the Pakistani people.'' ''This is a day of great tragedy, great mourning. She was a champion of democracy.

She was a courageous woman. In my conversations with her, her commitment and her dedication came through very clearly, and most especially her love for her people and for her country, '' said Ms Rice.

She said, ''I believe that her legacy will be one of being remembered for that dedication. And as the President (Bush) said yesterday, the way to honour her memory is to continue the democratic process in Pakistan so that the democracy that she so hoped for can emerge.'' Replying to whether the election in Pakistan, scheduled for January 8, would go ahead as planned, Rice said, ''We are in contact with the people in Pakistan and all the parties. But obviously, it's just very important that the democratic process go forward.''

UNI

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