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Thursday, 8 November, 2001, 05:55 GMT
Musharraf reaffirms support for US
General Musharraf is leaving Pakistan at a critical time
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has pledged to continue to back the US-led war on terrorism including sharing intelligence information.

But General Musharraf hoped the campaign in Afghanistan would be short and once again called for a stop to the military strikes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

One would certainly wish [the bombing] would not go on during Ramadan because it will definitely have negative effects around the Islamic world

President Pervez Musharraf
General Musharraf is in Paris on a diplomatic tour that will also take him to London and New York.

It is his first trip outside Pakistan since the 11 September attacks and will end with an address the United Nations General Assembly on 10 November.

In Paris, the general met French President Jacques Chirac and raised the issue of Pakistan's massive foreign debt and asked for international aid.

"France supports international aid efforts towards Pakistan, notably in the programme of aid and reforms under discussion at the World Trade Organisation," President Chirac said in response.

Pakistan is hoping to be rewarded for its support to the ongoing campaign against the Taleban and has already received aid packages from the IMF and the Asian Development Bank.

Anti-US protester
The general knows that further strikes will stoke Islamic hostility
Earlier President Musharraf made brief halts in Istanbul and the Iranian capital Tehran.

He said he would discuss the issue of bombing during Ramadan with US President George W Bush when he arrives in the United States.

Washington has so far refused to stop bombing Afghanistan during Ramadan in its continuing attempts to flush out Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Speaking in Istanbul, General Musharraf repeated his warning that the strategy could create serious diplomatic and political difficulties.

"One would certainly wish it would not go on during Ramadan because it will definitely have negative effects around the Islamic world," he was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.

Islamabad has supported the US operation in Afghanistan and given concrete help, but not without misgivings.

Although the president's position seems to have strengthened since the war began, he is clearly aware of the potential of continued bombing to stoke Muslim hostility.

Whirlwind tour

On Thursday President Musharraf will have a working breakfast with French premier Lionel Jospin.

Afghan refugees
Aid agencies are also calling for a break in the bombing
That is to be followed by discussions in London with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Correspondents say his earlier meeting in Iran may have been aimed at preparing the ground for a more substantial session at the UN with Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami.

Tehran strongly opposes the US-led operation in Afghanistan, and has also long been hostile to the Taleban, who were helped into power by Pakistan.

Western diplomats say it is vital that Pakistan and Iran in particular agree to back a broad-based government representing all Afghanistan's ethnic groups.

The BBC's David Cass
"General Musharraf's London visit is confirmation of Pakistan's commitment to the war with terrorism"
Dr Iftikhar Malik, south asia expert
"Musharraf feels that he has become isolated in the Muslim world"
See also:

19 Sep 01 | South Asia
On edge: Afghanistan's neighbours
04 Nov 01 | Middle East
Taleban 'offered Bin Laden to Saudis'
04 Nov 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Pakistan outlines unease
06 Nov 01 | South Asia
Musharraf: A risky time to travel?
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