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US to prod Pak prioritise move towards democracy

Written by: Staff

Washington, Apr 14: The United States will continue working closely with Pakistan in the global war on terrorism and continue talking about important priorities, like promoting democracy and moving forward on democratic reforms.

Replying to a question on the state of democracy in Pakistan, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, ''during his last visit to Pakistan, President George W Bush had met President Pervez Musharraf, and discussed among other things, the importance of continuing to move on the path of democratic reform.'' President Musharraf had responded to this positively and expressed his commitment to continue moving down the path towards democracy.

Referring to ''Pakistan as a very good ally of the United States'' Mr McClellan said ''We appreciate their efforts in tackling former members of the Taliban and al Qaeda and bring them to justice.'' Meanwhile, the State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said he could not confirm the reports emanating from Pakistan that a high-level, high-ranking member of al-Qaida has been killed, an individual that was responsible for the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Kenya.

''Certainly, fighting al-Qaeda is an important priority for President Musharraf and Pakistan was in a better position to do that,'' Mr McCormack said.

''We believe that in President Musharraf, we have a good partner in fighting the war on terrorism, fighting al-Qaeda. It's not only important in the global fight against terrorism, but al-Qaeda itself presents a threat to Pakistan, so they devote quite a few resources to that fight,'' Mr McCormack added.

However, he said the US would like to see justice done in terms of an individual wanted in connection with the embassy bombing.

A Pakistani cabinet minister had confirmed that a senior al-Qaeda explosives expert was killed during a raid on a suspected insurgent hideout in a tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

''Egyptian-born Muhsin Musa Matwali Atwah was among the seven Islamic militants killed in the attack on Wednesday in the restive North Waziristan region,'' the minister said on condition of anonymity.

Atwah was wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Washington had offered a 5 million dollar reward for his capture.

The attack was the latest in a series of raids by Pakistani troops in the rugged border areas, where foreign militants, including al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, are believed to be hiding.


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