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Bush thanks Pakistan for help on airline bomb plot

Written by: Staff
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ISLAMABAD, Aug 23 (Reuters) US President George W Bush telephoned Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf today to thank him for Pakistan's help in fighting terrorism and foiling a plot to blow up airliners over the Atlantic.

British police said on August 10 they had arrested more than 20 people and foiled a plot to blow up aircraft travelling to the United States with liquid explosives disguised as drinks.

Pakistan said it had acted on information from Britain and made arrests before British police rounded up suspects there.

As many as 17 people have been detained in Pakistan including at least two British nationals, an intelligence official said.

Pakistan described one of the detained Britons, a young man of Pakistani descent, as a ''key person'' in the plot, who was linked to an al Qaeda ''mastermind'' in Afghanistan.

''In the context of the London terror plot, President Bush expressed deep appreciation for Pakistan's role in fighting terrorism and the support Pakistan has been extending internationally,'' the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said.

Pakistan is a major ally in the US-led war on terrorism but US and other foreign officials have occasionally said it could be doing more.

In particular, Afghan and Western officials have urged Pakistan to do more to stop Taliban and other militants crossing into Afghanistan to attack Afghan government forces and foreign peacekeepers.

Bush said he was looking forward to talks with Musharraf in the United States next month which would cover international developments and ways to strengthen relations, the ministry said.

REUTERS MS RN2048

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