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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 December, 2004, 18:00 GMT
Bush renews support for Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf and George W Bush
The two presidents highlighted areas of agreement in their talks
US President George W Bush has praised Pakistan's drive against suspected al-Qaeda elements, after White House talks with President Pervez Musharraf.

There have been reports of US concern that Islamabad is reducing troop numbers in the border area where Osama Bin Laden is thought to be hiding.

But Mr Bush made no criticism of Gen Musharraf, whom he called "determined".

For his part, Pakistan's president got a renewed commitment from Mr Bush to support a Palestinian state.

Gen Musharraf repeated his view that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute was essential to Muslims and the global fight against terrorism.

It was "the most important issue... in the interest of peace in the world", he said after his Oval Office meeting.

Mr Bush said he assured the Pakistani leader that there was "an opportunity at hand to work toward development of a Palestinian state and peace in the Middle East".

He added: "I told him this would be a priority of my administration."

The BBC's Clive Myrie in Washington says Gen Musharraf's desire to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian situation may have been aimed at placating hardliners in mainly Muslim Pakistan who are irked at the close relationship with the US.

'Brave' ally

Trade, military co-operation and Pakistan's relations with India were also discussed at the meeting, arranged to take advantage of a refuelling stop made by the Pakistani leader in the middle of a five-nation tour of South America and Europe.

Correspondents say the most crucial part of the relationship for the US remains having Pakistan as an ally in its "war on terror" launched after the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Mr Bush did not comment on a recent move by Pakistan reducing military operations in the area bordering Afghanistan, instead praising what had already been achieved there.

"His army has been incredibly active and very brave, flushing out an enemy that thought they had found safe haven," Mr Bush told reporters.

"The president has been a determined leader to bring to justice not only people like Osama Bin Laden, but to bring to justice those who would inflict harm and pain on his own people."

Gen Musharraf is set to travel to Britain, where he will hold talks with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.




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