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Bush 'confident' in quick US bailout

business Updated: Sep 23, 2008 19:57 IST

President George W Bush said on Tuesday he had reassured worried world leaders at the UN General Assembly he was "confident" the US Congress would quickly act to rescue the crisis-hit US economy.

Hours before giving his farewell address to the annual gathering, Bush held his first-ever meeting with Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari amid growing doubts about the fate of a 700-billion-dollar US economic bailout package.

Bush said he had heard from "world leaders wondering whether or not the United States has the right plan to deal with this economic crisis" and assured them his approach was a "robust plan to deal with a serious problem."

"They're wondering about our Congress and I've assured them as well that having spoken to the leaders of the Congress from both political parties there is the desire to get something done quickly," said the US president.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said he was confident that lawmakers would act "this week" on the mammoth package despite growing questions about whether it includes enough congressional oversight and direct help for the US public.

"There's a natural give-and-take when it comes to the legislative process. There are good ideas that need to be listened to," Bush told reporters as he met with Zardari.

"But I'm confident, Mr President, and as I've told you and other leaders, that there will be a bipartisan bill, that the Republicans and Democrats will come together to get this piece of legislation passed, which is necessary to address the financial situation and provide a rescue plan to make sure that there's some stability in the markets," said Bush.

The US president began his day with a telephone call to the Dalai Lama "to express his concern" over the health of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, who cancelled a tour of Germany and Switzerland after his doctors told him to rest.

Bush later held his first face-to-face talks with Zardari, offering his condolences over Saturday's devastating suicide attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, in which at least 60 people died.

"I want to express our deepest condolences," said Bush. "I know that your heart went out to the families of those who suffer and so does the collective heart of the American people; we stand with you."

"Pakistan is an ally, and I look forward to deepening our relationship," Bush said amid tensions between Washington and Islamabad over alleged US strikes at extremists inside Pakistan along its border with Afghanistan.

"Your words have been very strong about Pakistan's sovereign right and sovereign duty to protect your country, and the United States wants to help," Bush told Zardari.

"We will solve all the problems. We have a situation. We have issues. We've got problems. But we will solve them and we will rise to the occasion," said Zardari, widower of slain Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto.

"That's what my wife's legacy is all about. That's what democracy is all about, to take difficult decisions and do the right thing for the people of our country and our two great nations. We should come together in this hard time and we will share the burden and the responsibility with the world," he said.

The New York Times reported recently that Bush secretly approved orders in June allowing US forces in Afghanistan to conduct ground operations in Pakistan without Islamabad's prior approval -- drawing anger from Pakistan.