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Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK
Hoon urges UK terror vigilance
A man wounded in the US air attack
Hoon's talks have included the US air attack
The UK public must keep on their guard against the continued threat of terrorism, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has warned.

Mr Hoon was speaking as he began the second leg of his tour of South Asia.


There are continuing threats to our security and indeed to other western interests

Geoff Hoon
Defence Secretary
The UK minister has already spoken to leaders in Afghanistan about their concern over the US air attack which killed civilians earlier this week.

Tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir dominated Mr Hoon's talks with Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Mr Hoon's trip came more than a month after the British foreign secretary Jack Straw visited both countries when tensions were at their peak.

Although tensions between the two countries have eased they both have hundreds of thousands of troops massed on their border.

President Musharraf has warned the situation will remain potentially volatile while the soldiers are there.

Mr Straw is due to visit the region again later this month to continue the dialogue he began at the height of the crisis.

A Foreign Office officials said: "We welcome the lowering of tensions but the international community needs to remain engaged."

The visit will give Mr Straw the chance to meet the new foreign ministers of both India and Pakistan appointed since his last visit.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said it had stressed the need for the resumption of a dialogue to resolve the dispute over Kashmir.

Mr Hoon is due to travel on to India, where he will meet India's defence minister George Fernandes and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

'Report anything untoward'

With efforts continuing to catch the remnants of al-Qaeda and Taleban forces in Afghanistan, the US has warned terrorists might strike again on 4 July - US Independence Day.

Mr Hoon told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There are continuing threats to our security and indeed to other western interests.

"For the moment, we all have to be vigilant about a general threat to security.

Geoff Hoon, Defence Secretary, in Pakistan
Hoon says there is a "positive feeling" in Kabul
"We have to ensure that any untoward incident is noted and reported.

"The police and other authorities will be certainly willing to investigate them because we must maintain our vigilance and must maintain our guard."

The Afghan government says 44 people were killed at a wedding party in a US air attack earlier this week.

Proper investigations

Mr Hoon said he had discussed the incident with both Hamad Karzai, the Afghan president, and with the US general in overall command in the region.

"Both are determined to properly investigate what took place and to learn lessons," said Mr Hoon.

It was too early to speculate about what had happened, he said.

"Clearly in the difficulties of operations above Afghanistan there are many pressures on pilots and on the way in which information is received and interpreted," Mr Hoon continued.

The deaths have provoked fears that it could fuel the propaganda of al-Qaeda activists.

Positive feeling

Mr Hoon acknowledged there were worries they could be used to try to destabilise the new government, which was working well.

The defence secretary noted a "positive feeling" in the Afghan capital, Kabul, with a "tremendous growth in business activity" even since his last visit.

The BBC's Kate Clark in Kabul says that last year Afghans were willing to take sacrifices if it meant the defeat of the Taleban.

But now, she adds, the coalition is just mopping up the scattered remains of the old regime and civilian losses are leaving Afghans perplexed and angry.

Critics of the military campaign in Afghanistan have argued the attack was the inevitable consequence of the kind of operation being used in the region.


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02 Jul 02 | Americas
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