Within hours after US strike, Bush praises Pakistan

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Washington, Jul 30: Only hours after an American missile strike destroyed a militant outpost in Pakistan bordering Afghanistan, US President George Bush praised Pakistan's commitment to fighting extremists along its deteriorating border with Afghanistan.

Bush, in a meeting with Pakistan's Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, at the White House on Monday, July 28 sought to minimise growing concerns that Pakistan's willingness to fight extremists was a warning, allowing the Taliban and al Qaeda to regroup inside Pakistan and plan new attacks there and beyond. At least six people were killed in the missile attack.

Among those believed to have been killed in the missile attack, evidently carried out by a remotely piloted aircraft operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, was an Egyptian identified as a senior Qaeda trainer and weapons expert, according to residents and officials in the area, as well as American officials.

During the meeting neither Bush nor Gilani discussed the American strike inside Pakistan, nor recent episodes like the American bombing of a border post in June that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers and inflamed anti-American sentiment.

The two leaders appeared eager to show that they were working together closely and respectfully.

Bush praised Pakistan as 'a strong ally and a vibrant democracy' and expressed appreciation for 'the Prime Minister's strong words against the extremists and terrorists'.

Later in his brief remarks and in a joint statement, Bush also expressed respect for Pakistan's sovereignty.

Bush also announced that the United States would provide 115 million dollars in food aid, including 42 million dollars in the next nine months, to help Pakistan deal with rising food prices, and pledged to support Congressional efforts to expand American aid to areas beyond security and military affairs, including education, energy and agriculture.


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