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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Pakistan warns of Afghan instability
From right: Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and EU Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten
The EU delegation is rallying support for the US
Pakistan has warned against imposing a government on Afghanistan if the Taleban regime were to fall in the event of a military strike.

Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said any decision to favour one side over another would be a recipe for disaster.


Any decision on the part of any foreign power to give assistance to one side or another would be a recipe for great suffering for the people of Afghanistan

Abdul Sattar
The comments came after a meeting between a top level European Union delegation and Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf.

It is part of an EU campaign to woo Muslim states into the international coalition to fight terrorism and to assure them that the alliance was not waging war against the Islamic or Arab world.

At a news conference, the Pakistani foreign minister said that he was concerned over reports that the opposition Northern Alliance in Afghanistan was seeking military assistance to fight the Taleban.

Click here for map showing military build-up

"We fear that any such decision on the part of any foreign power to give assistance to one side or another would be a recipe for great suffering for the people of Afghanistan," Mr Sattar said.

The Northern Alliance, which holds 10% of Afghanistan, has been emboldened by the build-up of American forces in the area and the threat of an impending US strike on the Taleban.

EU backs Pakistan

The EU team expressed strong support for the decision of General Musharraf, to support the US-led hunt for Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect in the attacks on New York and Washington.

Northern Alliance fighters
The opposition has asked for military assistance
The EU also pledged 20 million euros in emergency aid to Pakistan to help it cope with a huge influx of refugees from neighbouring Afghanistan.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, External Affairs commissioner Chris Patten and the foreign ministers of Belgium and Spain - the current and next EU presidents - made up the delegation.

"The aim of the trip is to give a very clear signal that we want as many countries as possible in this same battle," Mr Solana said at a news conference before the mission's departure.

Opportunity

Officials hope the trip will also be an opportunity to improve relations between the EU and Muslim countries.

Both Iran and Syria, two stops on the delegation's tour, are on Washington's list of states that sponsor terrorism, and the EU delegation may face difficult talks there.

But Mr Patten said the EU would praise Iran's political and religious leaders for condemning the attack.

"We'll also be saying you really can't in the medium and long-term - if you are to defeat terrorism - be confused (about) who are good terrorists and who are bad terrorists," he added.

"What we've got to do is end the slaughter of innocent people, whoever does it."


map

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 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Susannah Price
"The EU is offering moral and material support to Pakistan"
Shireen Mazari, Strategic Affairs Analyst
"It is important for Pakistan to keep a line of communication with Kabul"
The BBC's Kate Clark
"The opposition now believes it can retake large parts of Afghanistan"
See also:

23 Sep 01 | Middle East
Gulf states back US
23 Sep 01 | Business
Sanctions boost for Pakistan economy
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