US President George Bush has offered renewed backing to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf saying he looked forward to continuing to work with him along with leaders of the newly elected government who are seeking his ouster.
In a telephone call to Musharraf on Friday amid rumours that he plans to leave office, Bush "reiterated the United States' strong support for Pakistan and he indicated he looked forward to President Musharraf's continuing role in further strengthening US-Pakistani relations," White House spokesperson Dana Perino said.
Bush's call to Musharraf, who cast his lot with the US after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, was described as a follow up to his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, earlier this month where the two pledged to fight terrorism.
Asked about a reported deal struck by the new Pakistani government with tribal leaders in the region along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, said to be a haven of Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, Perino said, "We are very concerned."
"But we believe that the Pakistanis are, as well, and that we need to continue to make sure that we can confront the terrorists there on the border," she said referring to Bush's call to Musharraf and his earlier meeting with Gilani .
Later State Department Spokesman Tom Casey, elaborated Bush's remarks. "One of the things that, I understand, the president said was that he looked forward to continuing to work with President Musharraf as well as the prime minister and other members of the government, over the rest of his administration."
Bush told Musharraf that he would "work with them on the key issues before us, including confronting extremism and terrorism as well as helping to advance Pakistan's democracy and economic development."
Discounting reports about Musharraf plans to quit, Casey said, "I also don't see anything, either in her (Perino) comments about his call or in also the comments that President Musharraf has apparently made, to the media in Pakistan, that indicate that he has any plans other than to continue to serve out his term."