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Bush to host Pakistani, Afghan leaders at W House

Written by: Staff
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WASHINGTON, Sep 14 (Reuters) US President George W Bush plans to hold separate talks this month with the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the White House said today amid the worst fighting in years against a resurgent Taliban.

Bush will host Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Washington on September 22 and will then meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai on September 26, Bush administration chief spokesman Tony Snow said.

Tensions between the two neighbors have risen as the remnants of Afghanistan's former ruling Taliban have regrouped since their overthrow by US-led forces after al Qaeda's September 11 attacks on the United States.

Afghanistan is going through its bloodiest phase since the 2001 American-led invasion.

The use of Pakistani border areas by the Taliban, its al Qaeda allies and other militants has soured relations between the two countries, prompting Musharraf to visit Kabul earlier this month in an effort to repair ties.

Snow said Bush, who last met Musharraf in Islamabad in March, would review with the Pakistani leader their ''strategic partnership'' on a wide range of issues, including counterterrorism, advancing democracy and cooperation on energy and technology.

Bush will use his meeting with Karzai to ''reaffirm America's commitment to stability and reconstruction in Afghanistan,'' Snow said.

''The two leaders will discuss the need to continue cooperating in areas of mutual interest, including expanding good governance, countering the threat of militant extremists, stemming narco-trafficking and rebuilding Afghanistan's economy and infrastructure,'' he added.

NATO has run into more resistance from the Taliban than it expected after taking over southern Afghanistan, the Islamist group's birthplace, from US forces in July, and commanders have called for reinforcements.

REUTERS LL BST2236

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